Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guru's Musings: Draft Day Deal Bringing Tina Charles Home to the Liberty Comes Full Circle for New York

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA --
Due to a conflict in scheduling the Guru had to forego being present at the WNBA draft Monday night to attend the first-ever triple combination Philadelphia Big 5 postseason men's and women's awards event as well as the annual Big 5 Hall of Fame selection at The Paleatra.

But he wasn't far from keeping track of the wild proceedings at the WNBA draft, which he will get to shortly.

A year ago the Big 5 combined the men's and women's events, which used to be separate, into a unified event done in a classy presentation in which the men's and women's winners in each individual category were called up together.

Ths time around the Hall of Fame ceremony, which used to be held midseason sometime in January, was added to the back end.

The reception part of the night, instead of the sit-down following appetizers, featured just nibbles, which was fine because they were tasty as always and it allowed more time for mingling prior to the formal events.

Two reasons for the Guru to be in the house, besides a third of being on hand as a past Big Five honoree, were the inductions of former Temple classmate Dick "Dickie Hoops" Weiss, the men's Guru sportswriter, which makes you think how wild journalism classes were back in the Guru's and Dickie Hoops' collegiate days on North Broad Street.

Many came to honor Weiss, including incoming United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) president Dana O'Neil, one of the writing talents at ESPN who was a colleague of Weiss back in the days both were employed at The Philadelphua Daily News.

Dick Jerardi, who also works at the Daily News, presented Weiss, who spoke of growing up in The Palestra.

Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan, another of the top collegiate basketball writers in the nation, was on hand with his wife, as was former Immaculata great Theresa Grentz, who's championship era was just announced as a team inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Most of the specifics of Monday can be found in The Inquirer's Mike Jensen's report, which is also on Philly.com.

Additionally, Weiss and his wife Joan Williamson just co-authored a book with Grentz, Lessons Learned from Playing a Child's Game.

Thw Coyle sisters former Rutgers twin backcourt stars Patty and Mary, were alao in the house.

The post pizza after-party in Upper Darby in the city's immediate western suburb was almost like that show years ago on TV hosted by actor Jon Favreau, Dinner for Five, which featured a rotation of Hollywood celebrity friends.

On hand at the pizza parlor among others were Grentz, who is worthy of her own future individual Hall of Fame accolade; the Ryans, Villanova men's coach Jay Wright, Jensen, Joe Cassidy, the longtime men's coach at Rowan in Glassboro, South Jersey, whose collegiate days featured a two-year stint as the Saint Joseph's mascot The Hawk.

The other inductee involving the Guru wanting to be on hand was former La Salle great Crista Ricketts, who has played internationally and did play in the area's well-attended women's summer league.

When she was recruited, former La Salle coach John Miller predicted Ricketts would be the greatest women's player to wear a La Salle uniform.

The major local news of the day was the announcement that former Penn star Steve Bilsky, the retiring athletic director at his alma mater this June, would remain nearby as executive director of The Big Five, whose headquarters are in The Palestra on Penn's campus.

La Salle, incidentally, is the alma mater of WNBA Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve, while Bilsky was once the AD at George Washington when he hired Joe McKeown, now at Northwestern.

As for the awards, unlike past times, the winners are now announced ahead of time so there were no surprises though returning to waiting until awards night would inject drama and suspense into the event.

On the women's side, it was like Oscar night -- Saint Joseph's senior Erin Shields won all the productions awards in the early part of the evening -- scoring, foul shooting, academics, while Penn'a dynamite finish enabled the Quakers to sweep best picture, actor and actress out of the Ivy champions with Mike McLaughlin winning coach of the year; Alyssa Baron taking best player; Syndey Stipanovich taking rookie of the year -- the fourth straight time a Quakers player won the award with a fifth a strong possibility next year coming out of Texas.

And but for a few minutes in the total City Series, Penn might have walked off with its first Big Five championship trophy which was acccepted by Saint Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin after the Hawks went 4-0.

WNBA Draft: Full Circle for New York Liberty

Now that the Guru held you prisoner through all that, in playing catchup on twitter to picks as they approached, rather than reading everything live or watching the proceedings, it was quite humorous to see the famed Media Horde out of Connecticut quoting each other on breaking trades involving Tina Charles, while AP national women's writer Doug Feinberg went head on with his own reporting with the rest of the nation quoting him.

The deal, sending an unhappy Tina Charles -- not over the swap -- back home to New York for Kelsey Bone, first-round pick Alyssa Thomas out of Maryland, and a first-rounder next year, erases the long held unhappiness among the Liberty faithful that allowed Charles to land with the Sun in the first place.

Prior to Charles' arrival out of Connecticut in 2010, a three-team swap had been made involving New York that saw the Liberty first-round pick land in the hands of Minnesota.

At the time, though the value could have been better on the Liberty receiving end, the deal didn't seem that terrible in that most thought New York would be playoff bound that season but when the Liberty didn't make the postseason the pick, which had gone to the hands of Minnesota, went to Connecticut in the deal that sent Lindsay Whalen back home to the Twin Cities.

Monday's deal helps both teams especially since Charles had been unhappy over the previous offseason move a year ago in which Mike Thubault was let go and then picked up by the Washington Mystics, who ironically made the playoffs last season, and Connecticut did not due to a bunch of injuries.

Anne Donovan was hired to replace Thibault.

Last winter Donovan in a private call on another matter gave some indication that a former UConn type might be dealt somewhere and mused how the fan base would react.

Additionally, former Tennessee star and ESPN studio host Kara Lawson is now in Washington.

It was noted to her that the Sun fans, while also blue blooded UConn fans, have more of an emphasis on wanting their pro team to win a title and if a deal would fly with them, there would not be much unhappiness in losing Charles.

That appears to be the case beginning with the pick of Chiney Ogwumike out of Stanford at the top of the draft by the Sun and the deal bringing in value for Charles.

There were other offseason deals that brought in former Penn State star Alex Bentley out of Atlanta.

Donovan, in a public event down here last winter, in a speech, made an aside that the Sun locker room had not been a happy place last summer, though the remark in that audience was like a tree falling in the forest with no one from the Connecticut media crowd to hear it.

The only WNBA awareness in that group was former Delaware star Elena Delle Donne who went on to become rookie of the year with the Chicago Sky.

Donovan indicated the chemistry would be changed over the winter, which appearently has been the case.

Meanwhile, in Washington Thibault dealt Willingboro's Crystal Langhorne, the longtime Mystics star out of Maryland, to Seattle to bring in another Terrapin in Tianna Hawkins along with the draft rights to UConn's Bria Hartley, which enables her to reunite with rookie Stefanie Dolson, whom Tibault drafted head on.

Indeed, the Washington locker room could be the most entertaining for post game interviews, especially with the presence of former North Carolina star Ivory Latta, a factor last season in Washington's renaissance.

It also makes the coming preseason game May 13 at Delaware featuring Chicago and Washington that much more fun with Delle Donne home in the Bob Carpenter Center along with Sky teammate Swin Cash, the former UConn star, going opposite Dolson and Hartley.

Tickets are now on sale at the Delaware box office. Eleven -- count them 11 corporate partners are signed on for the event.

Considering that Washington, New York, and Connecticut are the Guru's prime stops on the WNBA summer tour, it will be an intriguing few months ahhead.

If Thibault can harness Hartley and Dolson the way Geno Auriemnma did at UConn, he might have a shot at landing on Auriemma's USA staff unless those picks are made before the season is well under way.

Two locals of interest went in the draft with Vanderbilt's Christina Foggie from South Jersey going to Minnesota, whose coach Reeve is also from the same general area.

And Narberth's Maggie Lucas, who became one of the all-time Penn State scoring sensations, was taken by the Phoenix Mercury, which once had Lady Lions all-timer Kelly Mezzante on the roster.

Return of Staley

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley returns home Thursday to present Baylor's Odyssey Sims the Dawn Staley Guard award at the Union League on Thursday.

If Staley has an extra smile and hop in her step, it could be over what will happen Wednesday before she gets back to town.

The Guru hears from sources outside Gamecock country that the highly coveted A'ja Wilson, who is down to choosing from Connecticut, Tennessee, South and North Carolina, will decide to stay home so Staley can be excused if she doesn't offer her annual Guru birthday greeting on Wednesday, when Wilson's announcement will be carred by ESPNU.

If Staley has already been given a similar indication she is not sharing it but one thing she and the Guru do share is accountants so time to wrap this up to head over and get something done known as taxes.

The Guru has been informed that he can go into overtime with his file.

More to come.

-- Mel

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Guru's Musings: Aftermath of Nashville

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru seems obligated to throw a few odds and ends around considering the numbers that have dropped by here while the Guru was helping the alma mater with the Immaculata Hall of Fame coverage and then drafted to handle the championship game between UConn and Notre Dame.

Considering the deadlines and the self-writing storylines, the bulk of what appeared in The Inquirer was written in the hour leading up to the game.

The fact that UConn turned the game into a rout made play by play inserts not all that much necessary.

Since the editing gods actually kept the essence of what was said about the UConn win, here is what might have appeared had Notre Dame won instead.

NASHVILLE -- The long wait is over for the Notre Dame women's basketball team and what a way to win.

In the most anticipated matchup in collegiate women's basketball history featuring two unbeatens in the NCAA title game for the first time, the Irish defeated longtime national rival and defending champion Connecticut xx-xx Tuesday night in the Bridgestone Arena to finish perfect at 38-0.

It's the second NCAA crown for Notre Dame and first since 2001 when the Ruth Riley-led Irish edged Purdue after upsetting Connecticut in the national semifinals.

But this one could be called an upset, also, considering that the Huskies (39-1) were No. 1 all season and a heavy favorite to win in the Bridgestone Arena before a sellout crowd of 17,519.

The game featured two Philly coaches in Connecticut's Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma, who grew up in Norristown, and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, a Big Five Hall of Famer who played at Saint Joseph's in the mid-1970s.

Furthermore, Notre Dame lost one of its key starters in Natalie Achonwa to a knee injury near the end of the regional final against Baylor in South Bend, Ind., l;ast week.

But that didn't stop McGraw's group from routing Maryland here Sunday night in the semifinals before Connecticut stopped Stanford to set up the battle of unbeatens.

Notre Dame's triumph kept Auriemma tied with Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt at eight and deprived the Huskies of becoming just the second team alongside Baylor (20-12) to go 40-0 in an NCAA season competition.

Auriemma's teams have gone unbeaten four times previously before the finals here.

The Irish win also deprived UConn of pulling a second double in the wake of the Huskies' men beating Kentucky for that NCAA crown on Monday night.

Connecticut's men and women won titles in 2004 and they are the only school to win trophies for both genders in the same season.

Thanks to the football-driven conference shakeup last summer, this game took on an extra magnitude because Notre Dame left the old Big East configuration to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference while Connecticut became part of the American Athletic Conference.

Thus the Huskies and Irish sidestepped each other during the regular season, though they will launch a two-year nonconference series beginning in South Bend, Ind., next season.

That Connecticut added a fifth unbeaten run to the program's record book, was considered quite possible.

But Notre Dame was not expected to do as well with the graduation of all-American point guard Skylar Diggins and the move to one of the stronger women's rivalries where Duke, North Carolina, and, for this past season, Maryland call home.

However, coach Muffet McGraw got the Irish off to a quick start in November and they bolted to their fifth straight Women's Final Four.

Early in the season Notre Dame moved into the second spot in the weekly polls and that's the way things stayed the rest of the way as the collision course of unbeatens took hold.

Two of the Notre Dame recent Final Fours apearances involved taking down UConn in the national semifinals but last season after beating the Huskies three straight in the old Big East, Auriemma got revenge in New Orleans and then the Huskies beat Louisville, also part of the Big East, to tie Summitt with title No. 8.


Getting the Last Word

So in a few years in 2017 the days of the weeks of the Women's Final Four will shift from Sunday and Tuesday to Friday and Sunday for the purposes on helping attendance and making travel easier for fans who won't be forced to miss Monday and Tuesday work days.

There's no quibble here but the Guru should point this out.

The same as 2004 the last time UConn pulled a gender double to become the only school to have its men's and women's team win the same season, it was the women who got the attention and had the lasting conversation because it was up to them to finish the job after the men won on a Monday night.

The same situation occurred here and with all the extra toppings on hand with the double unbeaten records of the UConn women and Notre Dame, the Philly dustup during Monday's press sessions with Irish coach Muffet McGraw and UConn coach Geno Auriemma, the curiosity factor heightened.

As ESPN executive Carol Stiff said to the Guru on Monday afternoon, "This is no longer a game -- it's an event," and the ratings supported that notion when released after the championship.

But if the calendar had already been in reverse, the women would have had their spotlight on Sunday night and into half of Monday but because the men were playing 24 hours later to close out the season for both genders, the focus would have been more on them in the ensuing days then the UConn women.

Before the next topic, if we're all one big happy basketball family trying to react of the Ackerman White Paper to make things better, unless the Guru missed a comment while running around all over the place, how come no one in a high NCAA place through a bone of approval to UTEP for the crowds the Miners drew for the Women's NIT won by Rutgers.???

Backroom Chatter

Though the Big East women's tournament was successful at DePaul in suburban Chicago and won by the Blue Demons, it may not return to the Midwest next time around.

The problem was even though five of the schools are gegraphically East -- St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown -- in terms of regional awareness in its old haunts from the days UConn snd the Hartford XL Arena where the the tournament was an annual event, the distance but the Big East into a mental eclipse in terms of paying large attention to the games from afar.

So, according to some insiders, while on one hand, the Big East could remain in DePaul country, the idea of moving back to the seaboard, or switching the dates to the second weekend, or both, or something creative that might make it easier for the regional media in the East to go back and forth could be on the burner at the annual spring meetings.

Geno's USA Helpers

USA Basketball Women's honcho Carol Callan said there's no rush to name who will serve on the coaching staff under UConn's Geno Auriemma for this fall's World Championship.

The quetion was posed on when the news might come because considering who helped out at the last training session and the names speculated, it could be a strong Philadelphia accent.

Auriemma grew up in nearby Norristown after coming from Italy not long after arriving on the planet.

Some WNBA ingredients are usually required and most everyone believes after guiding the Minnsota Lynx to two titles and three straight finals, Cheryl Reeve, who grew up across the river in South Jersey, and played at La Salle is a strong candidate.

Even though South Carolina coach Dawn Staley will be heading the Under-18 squad this summer, she could still land on the staff, especially given her long affair as a player and coach with USA basketball and is one candidate likely groomed for the post-Auriemma era, whenever that will be.

Other possibilities are Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti, the former UConn star who has already guided younger USA teams to gold medals as the Olynpic stars of the future; DePaul's Doug Bruno, who was an assistant to Auriemma in the triumph at the London Games in 2012; WNBA Washington's Mike Thibault, among others.

Some say what about Bill Laimbeer, coach of the New York Liberty.

When asked last summer, he smiled and replied, the players might like it but I don't know about everyone else.

Liking Mike

Chatting with Miami coach Katie Meier, a Duke grad, at the packed Blue Star Media party at one of Nashville's salooneries, the Hurricanes coach heaped praises on the Penn Quakers, which upset her squad in Coral Gables on New Year's Day to kick start a drive to the Ivy title.

"Not surprised that it happened," Meier said. "I loved the way they played. They should have beaten us. They were the better team. Mike McLaughlin's done a great job with them."

McLaughlin's name was on a lot of lips in Nashville as a prime candidate for BCS jobs or high mid-major positions in the future, though he is quite content to be with the Quakers in the Big Five.

Still, the Guru has seen it before. If someone has the bucks to pay the buyouts, and remember McLaughlin arrived with a history of Division II success at Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia, they won't hesitate to raid the coaching cupboard with offers that can't be refused.

So if the Guru were Grace Calhoun, the new AD at Penn who hired former WNBA and Olympic star Sheryl Swoopes at Loyola of Chicago with zero experience, one of the first things he would do is chat McLaughlin up and make him an untouchable so Penn's return to Ivy prominence as well as its newly-found acclaim byond the Ancient Eight becomes secure in the years ahead.

Princeton's Courtney Banghart has already previously landed in the group of next generation star coaches with the way she transformed the Tigers, but the mistakes schools with openings made in their approach in recent seasons is they made offers she could refuse.

In fact, while Princeton is in transition -- the Tigers are also in the AD market with the impending retirement of Gary Walters -- some schools might feel the time is right to grab Banghart.

Speaking of that vacancy, the Guru has in a few places heard the name of Oregon State men's basketball coach Craig Robinson, the brother-in-law of President Obama as a person of interest to the headhunters at Princeton.

One school that has moved quickly over the years to keep its women's coach in check is Hartford where everytime Jen Rizzotti's name would be mentioned for jobs, athletic director Pat Meiser, who also was involved in the hire of Auriemma at UConn when she was on the AD staff, would suddenly announce a new deal.

Meiser, incidentally, once coached Penn State.

Grentz the Author

Theresa Grentz, the first superstar center of the modern collegiate era when she played on the Immaculata championship squads that will going into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on August 8, has just penned a book Lessons Learned Playing a Child's Game, as told to Dick Weiss and Joan Williamson.

Weiss, is the famous "Dickie Hoops" Weiss, the acclaimed sportswriter of men's basketball while the Guru remembers Williamson when she was working for Sports Illustrated when he first began covering women's hoops in the mid-1970s.

Here is a link to Grentz's website and info about buying the book.

http://grentzelitecoaching.com/lessons-learned-from-playing-a-childs-game. You're going to have to cut and paste this in the url window on your browsers.

USBWA Women's Awards

As soon as he sees what makes or doesn't make the USBWA's newsletter on rounding up the women's awards from Sunday, he'll post the transcriptions of the acceptances that were made.

Especially poignant were the remarks from retired ESPN executive Rosa Gatti and CoSIDA's Barb Kowal, in charge of external relations, about the creation of the Mary Jo Haverbeck award beginning next season.

With Breanna Stewart about to play in the semifinals, athletic diretors Warde Manuel and Deb Corum accepted the player of the year for her.

Muffet McGraw's husband Matt was handed the coach of the year award. Kirsten Moore, coach of the Westmont 2013 NAIA national champions, received the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award.

OK. Now you had a reason to hang around for new material.

More to come.

-- Mel











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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Guru's NCAA tourney: Detour for now

Guru got tabbed for alumni duty by The Inquirer so game coverage will soon appear at Philly.com. But here's the link to willbill's photos. http://williamewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/2014-NCAA-Division-I-National-Championship-Game-Notre-Dame-Vs-UConn/G0000logNQOSPsSA


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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Mike Siroky's Final SEC Report: Boom! Goes the Conference

By Mike Siroky

The Southeastern Conference, the best league in women’s basketball during the regular season will end with several teams in the Top 15. But not one in the Final Four.

The Elite Eight had one conference team.

But that team, Texas A&M, was then eradicated in the Regional final by UConn, which has beaten everybody else as well.

Included, in what turned out to be an Atlantic Coast Conference rout, were the two No. 1 seeds eliminated by that league alone.

Don’t forget, A&M’s lone league win in the Round of 16 was only because they drew the usual cardboard cutout that is DePaul. Another conference, the AAC, also eliminated two SEC teams.

So, for the final report on this dismal season, here’s where they all folded into dust. May as well start with the one win.

Right before the real important games are played in the Final Four, here’s the (literal) breakdown of the league, plus three conference next-season notes:

•No. 3 Texas A&M, 84 No. 7 DePaul 65: This was the only advancement to the Elite Eight, also known as the Regional finals.

It used to be defeating the best team in the Big East was also a big deal. But with defections from still nationally-ranked Notre Dame, UConn, West Virginia and Rutgers, among others, DePaul is just a shadow representative of that once-mighty conference.

A&M (27-8) earned that mighty challenge of top-seeded UConn in the Lincoln Regional final. Good luck with that. A&M has never beaten UConn.

The 14-point halftime edge was enough to convince A&M to keep on keeping on. A close second half did not matter and A&M won that as well.

Steady sophomore Courtney Walker may be playing herself onto a junior national team. She is definitely building to All-American status. She is the ninth Aggie to score at least 20 in an NCAA tournament.

“The competition goes up,” Walker said, “your play has to go up.”

The Aggies guard continues to lead the program, with 24 in this one. Everyone played and all five starters hit double-figures – including 11 from senior center Karla Gilbert -- so at least the Huskies could not just shut down one player and hope for the best. It is the first time all year A&M had all starters score at least 10.

Even more impressive is the Aggies shot 88 percent from the field once they established a 22-17 lead.

“I’m just trying to find open shots when a lot of teams try to double the post,” Walker said. “Karla gives us some good points in there. When they double her, I have to be ready on the back side.”

A&M played its game, 60 percent from the field – a season best and a program best in the playoffs -- and 67 percent from the line.

The defense tuned up for the Elite Eight game by holding the Blue Demons to 40 percent from the field. A&M used superior positioning to outrebound the taller DePaul lineup by 10. A&M is 8-0 when scoring at least 80; they have won by an impressive 15-point average so fare.

They held DePaul to a season-low output by 19 points under their average.

“Yes, we can score points,” Aggies coach Gary Blair said, “but we can defend, too.”

The 65 is a season low for DePaul.

But it is ever thus with Doug Bruno’s teams. They win enough for the uninitiated to think they are a real team, then they fall apart at certain levels of competitions with defensive deficits and so will always be one of 16, but nowhere near the top of the group. He will get to keep his job while better coaches lose theirs.

Walker also starred on the defensive end, holding leading scorer Brittany Hrynko to three points. Hrynko had a total of 33 against Oklahoma and Duke in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Jones made five of the Aggies’ 10 steals and held Chanise Jenkins, who had 25 points the last two games, to three.

The Aggies are in the Elite Eight for the third time since 2008 and first since they won the national title in 2011. Maybe they came to see UConn at Lincoln, but the 9,585 were happy to be there.

“This is huge. We grew up watching this on TV,” said Walker. “We’re gonna do that for our seniors. We will be prepared.”

Blair is 20-7 in the NCAA post-season gatherings. It is not even unusual anymore to see how many male coaches are at this level.

All four coaches at Lincoln are men; two of the four at Notre Dame, the interim coach at North Carolina in the Stanford Regional and host Louisville had Jeff Walz; that’s half of the 16 with Lincoln guaranteeing one into the Final Four.

At 12-2, the A&M seniors are the second-best of the four-year players this year.

UConn, of course, leads at 17-2, a record not likely to be ever challenged.

“It’s fun, the last time we were in the Elite Eight we went to the Big Dance,” Blair said. “The best we’ve shot all year and great on defense. Our bench was huge in the first half when we had two starters on the bench with two fouls.

“They are feeling great about themselves. It doesn’t come easy. If you’re gonna win the national championship you’ve gotta beat the best team anyway. So why not now?

Everybody in the country will be watching this team to see if we are for real. We embrace that.

“We want them talking about us instead of talking about Connecticut.”

•No. 4 Maryland 73, No. 1 Tennessee 62: Maryland is having a heckuva final run as an ACC team before joining the Big Ten next season.

Coach Brenda Frese has already revived one program there, taking an NCAA infractions-stained Minnesota team for one season and getting them back on track before coming to Maryland 12 years ago.

But that will be then and this is now. She earned a shot at No. 3 Louisville in that Region’s title game, assuring either a 3 or a 4 would be in the Final Four.

UT (29-6) was the first top seed to fall and they fell hard. The school sent each of its basketball teams to the Sweet 16 and no further. Only UConn remained with both basketball programs still playing and the men went all the way to the title.

Meighan Simmons said farewell to the college game as Tennessee’s only senior. She scored 31.

“I’m just sad that that was Meighan’s last game,” her coach, Holly Warlick, said.
“She’s done a hell of a job for our program and I know she’s going to go on and do great things. Got beat by a better basketball team today.”

Temmate Cierra Burdick, next year’s designated team leader, said, “In 10 or 15 years down the road, we’re all going to have the opportunity to say that we played with Meighan Simmons. Probably one of the best scorers to ever play the game, and we’re going to miss her.”

Simmons said, “It’s always been a grind for us. We’ve had a heck of a year, and any game where we were down we found a way to fight back and Maryland just had the extra oomph today.

“They pushed through even harder. We just didn’t have it today.”

Simmons was in her 126th start, fifth on UT’s all-time list. Simmons is also fifth on the all-time program scoring list, with 2,064.

But where was the help? The frontline only combined for 14 while being outrebounded. Holding Maryland to 38 percent form the field sounds great until contrasted by Tennessee’s 35

This was the Terrapins’ game from the start. In fact a 41-27 first half underlined what UT has done all season, which is to start sluggishly and then rely on superior athleticism to make a second-half difference.

And, while UT obviously won the second half in scoring, the Lady Vols had dug themselves in too deeply to make a real comeback at this level of the tournament.

Maryland took a 9-7 lead to 22-9, UT scoring one basket in that 2:45 breakaway. UT got it down to nine with two minutes to go, but free throws kept UT at bay.

All Maryland had to do then was match point-for point, in other words, not mess up, for the entire second half and the upset was won.

The Terrapin defense forced 22 turnovers, scoring 14 points off 14 turnovers in the first half.

The Maryland seniors, Alicia DeVaughn, Katie Rutan and two of the best names in the tournament, Essence Townsend and Sequoia Austin, won another game.

It was classmate Alyssa Thomas who did most of the damage and far overshadowed Simmons, with a career-best 33 points with 13 rebounds.

So Tennessee has now sent away an entire college generation without a Final Four appearance. Used to be, everyone on the team had at least one. Used to be.

As magnificent as Warlick has been maintaining the legend, she still has work to do.

“I thought we had a good game plan,” Warlick said. “We wanted to mix it up. We were going zone, going man, and we just didn’t have the togetherness on the defensive end, whether it was trust, we gave too many layups. We understood that they score in the transition. We couldn’t stop that.

“We understood that they were great rebounders, we worked on that quite a bit, and we couldn’t stop that. You know, I don’t know. Looking back maybe play more zone, but I thought we had a good game plan, we just didn’t stick to it.

“All we can do is prepare them for what we need to do in the game and put them in situations where they know what they’re defending and where we need to attack offensively. I don’t know, the last two times we’ve been in the tournament, we didn’t get it done. We lost to a very good basketball team today, very good. Maybe we’ll address that for the next season.”

Brenda Frese, the Maryland coach, has won a national championship already. Here’s the strange statistic: Only six coaches ever have both been parents and won a national title. At 35 in 2006, she is the fifth-youngest coach to win a title.

“You know, this game was everything we thought it was going to be, just a phenomenal game by both teams,” she said. “It was intense, obviously we felt like it was going to come down to the rebounding and being able to own the glass. Going into this game we knew it was going to be a game of runs and we had to maintain our confidence.

“I have the utmost respect for Holly and her staff and the tradition that Tennessee has, that’s where we all want to be.

“But I’m really proud of the fact our kids played for Maryland and played with a lot of confidence, were never intimidated and really played for each other. I thought you saw us really get after it defensively, dominated, being aggressive on the boards and really being able to get out in transition. We want to continue to be under the radar, make sure nobody writes about us, talks about us, but really proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish today.”

Thomas was naturally pumped about earning another game.

“I went for my opportuntiy and looked to the rim,” she said.

She said there really were no surprises here.

“We knew we could get out on them in transition and just get easy baskets, and then once we got ball reversals we were able to attack the rim and get easy layups,” she said.

“Our post players did a phenomenal job of just limiting them, getting them in foul trouble really early and just trying to keep them off the boards from getting second opportunities.

“I just feel like this year we have so much more-- last year we didn’t really have any subs, and now this year we can send so many waves at them, it makes it so much easier.”

Going against Louisville next, Frese was taking on a former five-year assistant in Jeff Walz. But she also was going for another Final Four and that proved more important.

With the win, Maryland joins Georgia and Louisville (2013), Baylor (2010), Kentucky (2010), Rutgers (2007) and LSU (2004) as teams to defeat a No. 1 seed in the Sweet 16 in the past decade.

• No. 4 North Carolina 65, No. 1 South Carolina 58: Now that the regular-season champ and the conference champ determined by the post-season conference each lost at the same point in the tournament, anyone that cares to argue which is better or which coach is really the best in conference can just get to the chat rooms where the madness never ends.

North was not even with its real coach, using an interim. And they had already beaten South, in December.

There was an “uh-oh” feeling early on. By halftime, when North led by nine in the last Sweet 16 game of the tournament, the bad smell of SEC road kill from the Stanford Regional was wafting southeastward.

At intermission, phenomenal freshman guard Diamond DeShields already had a dozen Tar Heel points and had shaken off a knee bruise. Asia Dozer had seven and Aliana Coates six off the bench for the Gamecocks.

In other words, nobody was doing much of anything. North led the entire half, once by as many as 11. Stanford had already eliminated Penn State, so the winner knew the home team awaited. An angry home team. Knocked down to a No. 2 seed in the Regional in which they seemingly used to invite other teams to come and get beaten.
It never got better.

A strong second half was not enough for the Gamecocks (29-5). All the superlatives ended. The maximum number of wins in a season is set. The No. 1 seed idea is just a nice trinket without a Final Four.

Freshman Alaina Coates established the freshman program record with a 10th double-double, a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.

With no senior of merit, the Gamecocks will add McDonald All-Americans and others and take on a strengthened conference again for national notice.

North scored the first five points of the contest and looked to take control of the physical game. The Tar Heels made their move midway through the first half, going on a 9-2 run to build a 10-point lead at 20-10.

The Gamecocks scored the next five points, making the score 20-15 with 6:42 left, but did not find the basket for the next four minutes. While South was able to feed the post at will, the shots just were not falling.

Latifah Coleman gave the Tar Heels their largest lead of the half at 27-15 with three minutes remaining, draining a 3 from straight away as the shot clock was expiring. A minute later, Elem Ibiam halted the Gamecock drought with a layup and was fouled. A free throw later, the Gamecocks were back within single digits at 27-18.

With 24 seconds to go, Tiffany Davis hit a 3 from the right side to pull South to an eight-point deficit.

On defense, Asia Dozier got a steal and gave the Gamecocks one more chance before the break. Didn’t happen.

Three minutes into the second half, Coates had to be sent back in.

She drew a foul and sank two free throws, then blocked a shot.

After a putback by Aleighsa Welch, Coates scored on the next three possessions to draw the Gamecocks to 32-35 with 14:45 to play. It was the closest since the Gamecocks had been since the 12-minute mark in the first half.

The Tar Heels forced the Gamecocks away from Coates on the next few possessions, and DeShields – the national freshman player of the ear -- asserted herself.

After scoring just two points in the first half, Sec Player-of-the-YearTiffany Mitchell sank back-to-back 3s to keep South Carolina close at 41-38 with 12 minutes to go.

Welch intercepted a lob on a North backdoor attempt and Coates converted on consecutive baskets

With 8:43 left, the top-seeded Gamecocks had hope.

But North would have none of that. Back-to-back 3s from Jessica Washington and DeShields put the Tar Heels up 49-44 with 7:08 remaining.

It was Mitchell again and then Coates and it was 53-51 with five minutes left.

Back came the Tar Heels, six unanswered points to stretch the lead out to 59-51 with 2:40 to go.

Welch and Coates combined for five straight points, limiting the Tar Heels to one tough shot on the other end in between, but the Gamecocks could get no closer.

North Carolina hit free throws down the stretch to seal it.

Brittany Rountree converted a pair of free throws with 1:14 left and two more at the 36.4-second mark. SC had never had the lead in the game. They had 13 turnovers and shot 27.7 percent from the field.

“I think we exceeded a lot of people’s expectations outside of our locker room,” junior forward Welch said.

“We definitely weren’t surprised to get to this point, we wanted to go further, but a lot of people didn’t expect us to be the team we were this year with what we lost last year. We have almost everybody coming back, plus a good recruiting class, so the sky’s the limit for us next year.”

Coach Dawn Staley, facing a summer as the coach of the national Junior team for USA Basketball, said her own young junior team has potential for years to come.

Like so many other coaches who know they will be involved for as long as they win, she took the familiar tact of disappointment over accepting failure.

“They put us back on our heels and forced us into some foul trouble you don’t want to anticipate coming into a game like this,” Staley said.

“I’m just disappointed our season ends tonight. I am proud of the team we put on the floor,” Staley said. “Our players did what most people thought they couldn't do. This won't be the last time you see this South Carolina team here this late in the season.
I'm looking forward to the future.

“Now, it's back to the gym and film room.”

• No. 2 Louisville 73, No. 7 LSU 47: The Ben-Gals’ starting backcourt did not play due to injuries. And that summarizes the end of LSU’s (21-13) surprising run this far.

In their first playoff game away from home, they were bamboozled by a Louisville team trying to reclaim its image after being ranked in the top four nationally but seeded in the second four by the NCAA geniuses.

Of course, hosting a Regional has its perks, among them allowing UConn to go a little further West instead of the easternmost Regional to avoid a fourth straight loss to them this season.
Louisville, the city and the Yum! Center, can still host Regionals in the future (as can UConn’s county arena and Lexington’s Rupp Arena, among others).

One of the highlights of the Yum! Center (think Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell ownership for the company name) is it is the only arenas in America which hosts college games regularly that has a built-in bar at one end of the arena. Just sayin’ if the LSU and Tennessee coaches needed a drink after this one, the sports bar was open.

There wasn’t much to this game. LSU had eight available players. Louisville used the opportunity to practice 3s; they hit a season-best 12 to the delight of the 11,037 crowd, best of the Sweet 16.

LSU hit 23 percent from the field.

Senior Shoni Schimmel scored 19, celebrating once again on her home court.

“In the back of your mind you know they’re short and lost two important players that they needed,” Schimmel said.

“It wasn’t what we strived (for), but we understood that they don’t have these two players but we still have to play. It definitely helped us because we could have definitely overlooked somebody, but we didn’t do that.”

Cardinals’ reserves outscored LSU’s bench, 28-0, while also dominating in assists, 21-2. Louisville had also routed LSU in the pre-season NIT, 88-67, when LSU had al of its players.

“They did all that they could considering; they came in and they tried their best,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell. said “I’m proud of them for that. We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to, but it wasn’t that they were fearful.”

“I think we’re playing really good basketball right now, Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Did we look to me exceptionally sharp in the first half in the halfcourt? No. ... But I thought we really did a nice job of just attacking out of transition.”

•No. 2 Baylor 90, No. 3 Kentucky 62: UK’s house of cards folded abruptly once they met a quality team, one that they had taken to four overtimes at their place earlier this season.

It marks the end of nice careers for seniors DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker and some lesser lights. Both are transfers in, so Stallworth had 812 of 1,720 career points at UK; Walker, who famously chose this after UConn, had 777 rebounds of her career 877 at UK.

“Defensively we didn’t do a great job,” said Stallworth. “We weren’t together as a team. We dug ourselves a big hole and we fought in the second half that’s what matters.”

The game does erase a bad NCAA national memory. When Notre Dame dutifully bid on one of the first Regionals, then called the Mideast, the NCAA was delighted to try to stage a tournament in an area of the Midwest that never drew anything.

That trend continued and ND has since then had the unfortunate all-time record of the worst Regional Final attendance. They drew less than 400 with free admission, There were three Southeastern Conference teams in the four teams there, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi. Even then the SEC was the powerhouse conference.

Decades later, with the home team a No. 1 seed, although “good tickets are still on sale” ads ran the day before this Regional, the site drew 8,774. UK’s loss allowed a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the Regional final.

It is hard to say whether Baylor just naturally gets better as the seasons progress. Or that Odyssey Sims, once considered a lock for Player of the Year nationally, is in fine form and was the best player on this court by far.

She surpassed 1,000 points on the season with 25 in this one, 18 in the first half. She is only the second woman to ever score more than 1,000 in a season.

Stallworth was 9-of-14 for 19 points in her final game. Junior Bria Goss scored 13 -- including 9-of-10 from the line – but fouled out.

For BU, which won the rebounds by 10, Nina Davis scored 20 and Nia Johnson 11.
Baylor started on a 20-9 run and the game’s tempo was set. UK cut it back to four but expended so much energy doing so that Baylor extended the difference to 17 at the break.

As example of Baylor defining the game, it had 49 at the intermission; Kentucky didn’t get there until 10 minutes were left and the difference was still 13.

It moved to 23 in the next five minutes and about all UK could do was foul. Baylor was so efficient that the UK streak of 186 games forcing at least 10 turnovers also died.

Maybe UK backslid to the plateau they will now claim in the SEC, as the next level after the top teams. This was their only NCAA playoff game this year away from home.

At least UK coach Matthew Mitchell did not diss Sims, as he had called out the best player on the other team in his previous loss. Neither did he praise her.

“We had a really tough time, and it looked like we were ill-prepared and that’s squarely on my shoulders,” he said, taking the blame for a flop yet again.

“We played really good teams and we have dared to develop the program to a point to get them in games like this,” Mitchell said. “It is disappointing to perform like this in this type of atmosphere.”

He had kept leading scorer junior Jennifer O’Neill on the bench all season. That magnificently flopped as she was 0-of-12 from the field.

“Leading scorer goes 0 for 12, not a real good recipe for moving forward in this kind of environment in the tournament,” Mitchell said. “It’s hard to fathom how that kid can go 0 for 12. She didn’t try to do that. I thought she took some bad shots at times, but some were really good they just didn’t go.

“I thought we were doing a good job at some things, wish we could have made some of those layups and the complexion of game would have been different,” he said.

ELITE EIGHT

• No. 1 UConn 69, No. 3 Texas A&M 54:
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis continued her splendid run through the NCAA tournament with 17 points, and UConn advanced to the women's Final Four for the seventh straight year.

It is the 44th straight win for the defending national champs (38-0).

Stefanie Dolson made her 150th career start to tie the NCAA record. She scored 14 with 10 rebounds and blocked a career-high eight shots. Bria Hartley had 14 points, Breanna Stewart – the National Player of the Year -- added 13 and Moriah Jefferson 11.

The sophomore Courtneys led A&M. Walker scored 14 and Williams 13.

Mosqueda-Lewis, a returning All-American, missed 12 games this season because of injury or illness. Not here or now, however. She is the Lincoln Regional's most outstanding player.

She had a triple-double against Saint Joseph's in the second round and 19 points and 13 rebounds against BYU before this. Against the Aggies in the final she provided the spark after the Huskies found themselves in an early hole.

Her play made up for the slow start of Stewart, who got into early foul trouble and scored two in the first half.

The Aggies had shot 60 percent in their 84-65 win over DePaul, their best mark ever in an NCAA tournament game. They hit 28.9 percent the first half while falling behind 34-23 against UConn and finished at 35.3 percent.

The Aggies had won their first three games in the tournament by 15 points or more, but they ran into a UConn club that was just too powerful, whether in transition or on a normal drive inside.

The Aggies made their first six shots of the second half to cut into UConn's 11-point halftime lead. Jones hit a pair of 3s, and after she drove to the hoop on Jefferson, A&M was within 40-37.

The Huskies cranked up their transition game, went on a 10-0 spurt and outscored the Aggies 27-12 to build their lead to 18 points in the final 3 minutes. No team has played UConn closer than 11 points this season.

The Aggies broke out to an 11-4 lead -- matching the biggest deficit UConn has faced this season -- before Mosqueda-Lewis made her presence known.

Mosqueda-Lewis fed Dolson for an easy basket to start a 26-6 UConn run. Hartley scored twice off Jefferson's long passes, Mosqueda-Lewis hit a couple 3s and showed what she could do inside when she took an inbound pass and drove the baseline for a left-handed layup.

Jefferson slipped a pass to Dolson for a reverse layup and then drove the hoop and hit a 3 of her own to put the Huskies up 30-17.

Courtney Walker ended a five-minute scoring drought with three straight jumpers, but nothing symbolized the night more than Kiah Stokes' block of Achiri Ade's shot just ahead of the halftime buzzer.

“That’s the second-closest game Connecticut has had all year. The score does not indicate how close the game was,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. He pointed out they drew 7,169 for the only Regional final with no host team. The 29,524 that A&M drew to four games were the most for any individual team, including the first two at other home sites.

“This team is still young. We are still gaining experience,” he said.

“This was one of Carla’s best games and she is going against one of the best post player in the game.

“But when we missed things, we came back better. They were really fouling hard.” The 11-3 early lead was the biggest deficit of the season for UConn.

The season wins are the third-most in program history; the senior class finished 12-3 all-time in the NCAAs,

“As a team we got better and better and that’s you can ask,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back. The little things we are doing will make us better. The skill and the competition we have will make us better. When we come back to the Elite Eight, we’ll be able to handle it.”

And a Few More Things

• A Summitt will eventually be coaching against SEC teams.

Following his genetics, Tyler Summitt was picked off the assistant coaching ranks – Marquette -- to lead Louisiana Tech. There is little doubt Tennessee and other SEC programs will be quick to renew contracts with them.

There is a bit of irony here as Tech was once the super team of the elites, in the AIAW days and into the time when the NCAA took in the women’s games. The Lady Techsters twice eliminated Tennessee and coach Pat Summitt in a title game.

The first was in 1981, with the AIAW.

Tech had All-American Janice Lawrence there, a splendid forward still viewed as one of the best ever in the game and a miniature point All-American guard named Kim Mulkey, on her way to a Gold Medal at the L.A. Olympic Games – with Lawrence -- and now more well-known as the Hall of Fame coach of Baylor. She is the only woman to have titles as a player and a coach.

The second of those seasons ended in Los Angeles, on UCLA’s famed home court in 1988. The leader of the Lady Techsters was All-American Debra Rodman, the mammoth older sister of the eventually better-known Dennis.

In fact it was he who was handing out the made-in-advance championship T-shirts as the celebration began.

Tech had the first great male coach in a national championship women’s program, Leon Barmore, an indomitable spirit. So Tech is not afraid to have a man leading the program.

Yes, this hire is as much publicity as reality, but it still offers Tyler a chance to start coaching at age 23, almost unheard of in the modern era.

His father, R.B., and his mom were both there to see him start. His first hire was a former Lady Techster, the mercurial Mickie DeMoss, who is now more remembered for a long-time association with Pat at Tennessee than for her own flops as a head coach in her 58 years, in the SEC at Kentucky and at Florida as well as elsewhere.

“As I grew up as a part of the Tennessee Lady Vols program, everything on and off the floor was geared towards competing against Louisiana Tech,” Tyler said. “The Lady Techsters were the standard in which excellence in women’s basketball was measured for so long. I am proud to be a part of this storied program.”

His dad, R.B., also said he had fond memories of the origination of the rivalry.

But this moment is for his son.

“It is such a humbling but exciting moment,” R.B. said.

“We are proud for Tyler and for Louisiana Tech. I think we can mark down this day as exceptional, a date to be remembered, sort of like your child's birthday: the emotions, the expectations, the hopes of a new beginning.

“Tyler has been praying, planning and building for just such a wonderful opportunity. There aren't enough words to thank Louisiana Tech University and all the loyal fans. I know you have hired a winner and great days are ahead.”

Obviously, Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland carved his school back into the national record books, as Tech is second all-time in wins (1,043), trailing only Tennessee.

At age 23, he is young enough to have a multi-decade career at Tech and then be ready when Holly Warlick wants to retire at Tennessee.

Tyler’s challenge is to rebuild the storied program back into a conference contender and annual NCAA Tournament participant. Tech’s 27 NCAA Tournament appearances ranks fourth all-time; they have not been in since 2011.

“Tyler represents our philosophy of developing champions in the classroom, on the court and in life,” McClelland said. “He grew up in that championship culture, and it is all he knows. His reputation as a great recruiter, a rising young star in the coaching business and a passionate leader is known throughout the nation. We are fortunate to have him lead our women’s basketball program into the future.”

Tyler is properly low-key about this.

“AnDe (his wife) and I are grateful and humbled for the opportunity to become a part of the Louisiana Tech Family,” Tyler said. “I am honored to lead our women’s basketball team, which is an absolute gem in the women’s game with an incredible tradition.

“To our Lady Techster fans, AnDe and I look forward to getting to know you all very soon. I am excited to help every member of our program be the best that they can be through our five standards: belief, family, character, competition, toughness.”

Family friend and Pat Summit mentor Billie Moore welcomes Tyler to the profession.

She is a former U.S. Olympic coach, and built the UCLA and Cal. State-Fullerton programs into national prominence.

“Tyler has a special gift. He has a talent for teaching, a unique perspective of seeing and understanding the concepts and strategies of the game.” she said. “Tyler is great with people; he is a tremendous communicator and a natural leader – things that have nothing to do with age. Quite simply, he has ‘it’ and there is absolutely no question in my mind that he will be a successful head coach.”

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. Is obviously on board.

“Tyler Summitt is an amazingly talented individual with tremendous character and leadership skills that will unquestionably propel him to success in life,” Guice said
“I am absolutely thrilled to have him leading our Lady Techsters basketball program and am confident that he can return our program to national prominence.”

Barmore, who has to be discouraged by what has happened to the program he left behind. Like Pat Summitt, he has never left the university and also keeps a title as basketball coach emeritus.

“I really respect and appreciate the commitment that president Guice and Tommy McClelland have shown to this program with this hire,” he said.

“They have put the Lady Techster program in the forefront. I met with Tyler. What I found out in the 45 minutes we spent together was that he truly respects this program. We certainly respect him and his family. In time he will prove to be an outstanding head coach. I know he is 23 years old, but he has been coaching since he was one. I really like the direction we have gone. I think this is a really good hire. I am fired up about it.”

Tyler also runs his mom’s Pat Summitt Foundation, is a sought-after public speaker and, with his wife, is active in church.

“It is a special day for our family, and especially for Tyler, as he is given the reins to one of the most storied programs in women’s basketball,” said Pat.

“We are excited about the opportunity he has been given and are grateful to Tommy McClelland and Dr. Leslie Guice for having faith in Tyler. He has been preparing for this day since he was a little boy and I can assure you he will work very hard and will represent Louisiana Tech University with class. I’m sure Tyler is ready to get busy, and I know he and AnDe look forward to becoming part of the Louisiana Tech family and the Ruston community.”

He graduated from the University of Tennessee Chancellor's Honors Program where he was a member of the Tennessee men's basketball team for two seasons.

Tyler also served as a student assistant coach for his mother and the Tennessee women's basketball program. He was actively involved in the 2007 through 2009 seasons for the Tennessee women, two of which resulted in national championships.

He was the head coach of numerous AAU teams in Tennessee, including the Tennessee Fury 17U who went on to win the State Championship. He has also been a head coach at Tennessee’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball Summer Camps from 2005-2011.

“Tyler told me, ‘There’s only one environment I know. That is a championship environment, and I will bring that to practice, to work and to games every single day,’” said Terri Mitchell, the Marquette coach. “He absolutely delivered on that promise. He’s going to be a star in our profession.”

His hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

• Two for Tennessee (or the rich get richer): League champ Tennessee has two great McDonald AlllAmerican recruits among its incoming class. In the actual West/East game, Jamie Nared (Portland, Ore.) led the winners with 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. Alexa Middleton (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) won the All-American skills competition.

• Way Out of Reach: The hiring Jimmy Dykes – now there’s a good ol’ boy’s name -- as the eighth coach for Arkansas at least next season is a reach beyond belief.

Not only has he never coached a women’s college team, he has been out of coaching since 1991 (he was an assistant then), instead commenting for low-viewed ESPN events.

It may be a statement all right, a statement that Arkansas is finally out of major-league basketball.

The best man in the game right now, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, tore himself away from making another Final four to say the Dykes' hire is “outside the box” and “a lot of people will be watching pretty closely.”

The flubby-looking athletic director did not apologize for all but handing every other SEC team wins for seasons to come.

Jeff Long said Dykes approached him. Gee. Another shocker for a guy on no one’s radar. Ever.

He claims to have talked to coaches across the country. Musta been a lot of rejections there. He did admit it is a “non-traditional” hire.

So instead of hiring a nifty top assistant, maybe even making a minority hire, they got this. Long even tried to sell the bag of soap that Dykes won out “head and shoulders” above the others he considered. Like to see that list, sometimes.

Oh, he’s a former Arkansas player, a non-recruited one. That’s about the best that can be said. He evidently interviews well.

"No one can sell this program, sell the University of Arkansas, sell the state of Arkansas, better than Jimmy Dykes," Dykes said. "I know that with all my heart."

He whistled bravely past the graveyard in saying the “days are over” when Arkansas is not considered as a tough team.

So what’s the next step down?

Like every other major question about this, that also went unanswered.

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Mike Siroky's Final WNIT Report: Nothing Sweet About It

By Mike Siroky

Even though two teams in the Big Ten recovered their season records enough for next year’s public relations books, they still did not win the NIT.

That tournament is only important if you win it, which a soon-to-be conference competitor, Rutgers, did.

Another league newcomer in the next season, Maryland, made the Final Four of the bigger competition.

This proves the league will keep getting better and, perhaps, the best coaches will be the two newbies, each with former conference coaching experience.

Just as their conference sisters did in the NCAA playdowns, the one remaining team each from the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference went no further than qualifying for the NIT quarterfinals.

The best each team got some more team practices in, showing practicality for next season less than six months away.

So here’s how it ended:

• South Dakota State 76, Indiana 64: Away from home for their first time in the tournament, in Sioux Falls, Indiana (21-13) fell right where conference competitor Minnesota died the week before.

Unlike the Gophers, Indiana is delighted with their coach and he can now build on this experience with a wonderfully young team of seven freshman and three sophomores.

Alexis Gassion led the Hoosiers with a career-high tying 22 points and fellow-freshman Larryn Brooks scored 16 points for Indiana. Brooks is already at 554 on her career.

Early on IU tied it at 13 thanks to a Gassion drive and layup. Taylor Agler found Milika Taufa on a backdoor cut for lay in with 13:28 left in the half. The Jackrabbits then strung together a 6-0 run to take a 19-13 advantage.

South Dakota State closed the half with an 11-3 spurt over the final 4:16 to take a 36-29 lead.

Senior Andrea Newbauer played some big minutes in the second half and drove to the bucket for a layup to cut the lead to four with 12:45 to go.

Gassion hit a three and then two more baskets to cut the deficit to 54-51 with 7:33 remaining.

Indiana ends with a school-record 21 wins, the fifth team in program history to do it.

IU shot 44.4 percent for the game, 8-of-18 3s.

The Hoosiers scored the second-most points ever in a single year in school history (2,369), finished with the second-most field goals (850) and the most 3s (259).

The 259 3-point field goals made rank second all-time in Big Ten history for a single season.

Brooks’ 67 3-pointers made ties for the fourth-highest ever in a season; is third for most assists in a season.

Coach Curt Miller said, “I thought it was great game, with the crowd and the way we competed in it.

”What an honor. That game made us better in the future. The environment will make us better in the long run. The statistics are nearly identical. Both team made big plays when they needed to. I came in saying we needed to be 10 points better to beat them and we were not.”

He pointed out his freshman backcourt scored 45 and so, “The foundation is set with the one recruiting class . . . and yet we continue to build to get better.”

“We always rallied with what we know how to do,” said senior Tabitha Gerardot.
Freshman Taylor Agler said it all is about working hard in practice. “We now know what to do and just have to do it,” she said. “Keep workin’ hard.”

Brooks said she enjoyed her freshman journey and learned a lot about crowds and arenas.

“We didn’t win all our battles and now that is one of our goals,” she said.

“All those different memories,” reflected Gerardot. “The most non-conference wins in school history, getting nationally ranked at one point. I am glad I came.”

SEC

•South Florida 60, Mississippi State 58:
The Bulldogs (22-14) as we have been cheerleading these past weeks position themselves to move into the middle range of the southeastern Conference with this NIT run.

And they made it as close as they could.

Rallying from down seven points in the final four minutes of play, MSU grabbed the lead on a basket by all-conference junior center Martha Alwal. Then a 3 as time expired killed them and drained the home crowd of 3,006.

The Bulldogs won three postseason games for the first time in program history and finished with 20-plus wins for the fifth time ever. The 22 victories stand as the fourth-most in school history.

“It was one heck of a basketball game,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “I never have been prouder to watch these young ladies grow. A year ago, we were doing individual workouts on March 5. This year, we were still playing 25 days later. I am proud of these ladies.

“The crowd was outstanding. The atmosphere was great. It needs to be that way every time because these ladies are paying the price to represent this university.”

Both teams struggled offensively in the opening half as the game quickly established itself as a defensive struggle.

South Florida built an 11-6 lead less than eight minutes in. Back-to-back baskets by Kendra Grant, who finished a point shy of her career high with 22, brought the Bulldogs to 11-10.

South Florida scored seven straight to build a 21-14 lead. From there, State tightened up defensively and did not allow a field goal over the final 4:45 of the half.

The Bulldogs scored the half’s final eight; two free throws by Grant with 21 seconds left tied it at 22 at halftime.

In the opening half, each team hit 8-of-30 field goals for 26.7 percent shooting.

“It feels really good to see how far we have come,” Grant said. “Making it to the Elite Eight of the WNIT tells us that we have come a long way. It feels really good to know that we are making a difference and becoming a really good team.”

MSU started the second half with better offensive flow. The Bulldogs held the lead for all but one possession of the first 12 minutes of the second half.

Behind the strong play of Breanna Richardson inside and Grant outside, the Bulldogs led by four points seven different times in the early stages of the half.

Over the stretch of three minutes, South Florida hit a 12-0 run to grab a 48-40 lead with 6:26 left. The Bulldogs were still down seven with 2:40 left before mounting one final threat.

“I don’t want these kids and this staff to feel like this again,” Schaefer said. “They work too hard and they have given their all. This team is on its way. The people who walked out of the arena tonight now have a connection with this team. They know this team is fun to watch.

“There is no one that is going to out-tough us or out-physical us.”

The Bulldogs hit 32 percent from the field and 72 percent from the line with a 46-37 rebounding advantage.

In addition to Grant’s 22 points, Richardson posted her fourth double-double, second of the WNIT, with 14 points and 14 rebounds, a career high.

Alwal had 317 rebounds, the ever in a season by a Bulldog.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Guru's NCAA Report: Unbeatens Connecticut and Notre Dame Advance to Title Game

( Here is William "Willbill" Ewart's photo link to the Notre Dame game http://williamewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/2014-NCAA-Womens-Final-Four-Maryland-Vs-Notre-Dame/G0000TnAyQFRresw/1

and to the UConn game http://williamewartphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/2014-NCAA-Womens-Final-Four-Stanford-Vs-UConn/G0000magE40e1pT4/ )

By Mel Greenberg

NASHVILLE --
The so-called "extras" that Maryland coach Brenda Frese referred to her Terrapins and Stanford going into Sunday's national semifinals of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament got x'd out by the 1-2 punch of Connecticut and Notre Dame to set up a first-ever batle of unbeatens Tuesday night for the Division I championship.

Connecticut's appearance will follow the Monday night men's championship between UConn and Kentucky giving the Huskies a chance to pull a double triumph in the same season for the second time in history.

Despite having lost post player Natalie Achonwa in the regional title win over Baylor, Notre Dame had little difficulty with the Irish's temporary Atlantic Coast Conference rival Maryland and all-American Alyssa Thomas in blasting to an 87-61 victory in the Bridgestone Arena to stay perfect at 37-0.

The Terrapins (28-7) with the loss, will bid adieu to the ACC and on July 1 will join the Big Ten conference.

Notre Dame, an emigre from the old Big East configuration where it played UConn consistently, made its ACC debut this season.

Meanwile, several hours later after a slow start in the first half, Connecticut racked up win number 39 on the season without a loss by beating Stanford 75-56 to make it four wins in five tries against the Cardinal (33-4) competing in the Women's Final Four.

Ironically, the matchup brings together two coaches -- UConn's Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw -- with ties to Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia and to the championship era in the early 1970s of Immaculata, which will be announced Monday morning as part of the induction class to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Both Auriemma, who coached for the Hawks as a women's assistant, and McGraw, who played and coached as an assistant at her alma mater, are in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame near here in Knoxville while Auriemma is also a Naismith Hall of Famer.

Auriemma is also going for his ninth NCAA title, which would break a tie with Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt, and second straight win over the Irish in the Final Four following last season's triumph in the semifinals on the way to the way to the championship, which came courtesy of a win over Louisville, which was also in the old Big East.

Previously, Notre Dame had three straight wins over UConn in the Final Four in 2001, 2011, and 2012.

The losses ended the all-American careers of Maryland's Thomas and Stanford's Chiney Oguwmike, who are expected to go quickly in next week's WNBA draft at the Mohegan Sun, home of the Connecticut Sun, in Uncasville.

"Obviously, the better team won tonight," Frese said. "...I thought they set the tone from the first possession with the offensive rebounding, being dominat on the glass."

Notre Dame outrebounded the Terrapins 50-21 and the two all-Americans from the Irish dominated the nets as Kayla McBride scored 28 points and Jewel Loyd scored 16.

Additionally, Markisha Wright off the bench scored 12 points.

Thomas, who struggled with foul trouble, scored 14 points while Brionna Jones had a team-high 16 points for the Terps, and freshman Lexi Brown and reserve Laurin Mncy each scored 11 points.

"We thought the game would be won on the boards," McGraw said. "I think it was. To hold them to four offensive rebounds for the game, I think it was a tremendous accomplishment."

McBride said of her night, "I was trying to have fun -- I thought in past games I was pressed a little bit. As a senior, I felt I had to do too much. But I let this game come to me."

In the Connecticut game, the Huskies' Breanna Stewart, the consensus player of the year to date as a sophomore, had a game-high 18 points, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 15 points, Bria Hartley, another all-American, scored 13 points, all-American Stefanie Dolson scored 10 points, and Moriah Jefferson also scored 10.

Amber Orrange had a team-high 16 points for Stanford while Oguwmike ended her career with 15 points and 10 rebounds on the night.

Auriemma ascribed his team's early struggle caused by the inability to make shots but once the Huskies settled down, he noted, "I thought we played one of the best games we played all year, given the fact we beat a really, really good team."

Notre Dame won at Maryland during the regular season in a game in which the Irish lost a big lead but prevailed in the closing minutes.

Connecticut won in the Huskies' campus arena in Storrs at Gampel Pavilion over Stanford in a nonconference game in November.

"I think at times we were a little jumpy, getting too excited," said Stewart, who last season became the second freshman to earn Most Oustanding Player honors for the tournament.

"And we had to settle down and get into the right rhythm of the game. Once we did that, it seemed like we went on a run to end the first half and shots started falling."

Connecticut trailed by six with 5:39 left in the first half and then went on a 12-2 run into the break and kept it up by opening the second half with a 16-3 outburst.

""Things got a little away from us in the second half," said Oguwmike, who was a No. 1 pick overall by the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks two years ago.

"Mybe if two things went our way we could have swayed the momentum. But that's just the way the game goes sometimes."

Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer spoke of the frustration of her Stanford Cardinal playing the Huskies.

"To beat Connecticut when you're here, we needed something else," she ssid. "And we needed to be bigger. We needed to play a bigger lineup. But we didn't. We weren't able to play people when we needed to. We tried it and it didn't look very good."

-- More to Come.

-- Mel






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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Immaculata Champions Are Naismith Hall of Fame Bound

(This is the longer raw Guru's cut of the original sent to the Inquirer)

By Mel Greenberg

NASHVILLE --
Six years after former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush was inducted in 2008 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the three Mighty Macs squads she guided to AIAW national titles in 1972-73-74 will be joining her as part of the Class of 2014 honorees on the weekend of August 7-9 in Springfield, Mass.

Several sources confirmed Sunday that the Mighty Macs' championship era will be among the inductees introduced when the official announcement of this year's class is made Monday morning at the NCAA men's Final Four at a Dallas Hotel not far from in Arlington, Texas, where the title game will be played Monday night between Connecticut and Kentucky at AT&T Stadium.

The sources asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the Hall or Immaculata and the announcement was not yet official.

Judy Marra Martelli will represent the team at the press conference in Dallas, where her husband Saint Joseph's men's coach Phil Martelli is also in town for the men's finals.

Several persons here at the women's finals were aware of the Immaculata honor but people have declined to speak until after Monday's press conference.

"They deserve to get inducted," said Hall of Fame Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma of the reports here at the Women's Final Four prior to guiding his unbeaten Huskies (38-0) against Stanford (33-3) in the national semifinal game Sunday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

If Auriemma's Huskies leave here with a trophy following last year's triumph, he would break a tie with former Hall of Fame Tennessee coach Pat Summitt to earn a ninth NCAA title.

On the other side of the Sunday doubleheader unbeaten Notre Dame (37-0), coached by Saint Joseph's graduate Muffet McGraw, crushed Maryland 87-61 to conclude life in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Terrapins at 28-7.

The Irish, newcomers to the ACC, played Maryland once in the regular season and now Brenda Frese's squad is on its way to the Big 10 on July 1.

It is still a big weekend for the Terrapins because the Washington Post reported that Collingswood's Gary Williams, who coached the Maryland, has earned induction as part of the class that includes Immaculata.

Auriemma, growing up in Norristown and attending Bishop Kenrick High, watched such stars on the Immaculata combined roster of 19 players in the era as Theresa Grentz and Marianne Stanley, who each are also individually worthy of one day earning induction.

Two of the 19 -- Maureen Mooney and Patricia Opilar Penetar -- are now deceased.

Grentz went on to coach at Saint Joseph's, Rutgers and Illinois while Stanley, now an assistant with the WNBA Washington Mystics, coached Old Dominion out of Norfolk, Va., to national titles in 1979, 1980 and 1985.

The first two ODU national tles occurred under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), which was the women's governing body prior to the NCAA beginning women's competition in 1981-82 in most sports.

Rene Portland, who also played in the era, went on to coach Penn State to national prominence.

Both Grentz and Stanley reached the women's screening committee last winter as nominees to advance as finalists to the 24 honors voters.

McGraw and former Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo were also under consideration along with several others.

The women's committee is allowed only two candidates to move forward.

It appears that rather risk Stanley or Grentz falling short, the women's committee likely thought that submitting the entire Mighty Macs group in the Team category had a better chance to pick up the necessary 18 honors votes needed for finalists to land in the Hall of Fame.

Several years ago a movie The Mighty Macs about the first of the three championship teams reached theaters and is now available on DVD.

The women's committee also nominated Harley Redin, who coached the famed Wayland Baptist Flying Queens out of Plainview, Texas, who won six AAU titles in the 1950s, but it was not known if he also passed the final hurdle to Springfield.

The Hall also has taken over sponsorship of the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award and the winner announced Sunday here is Baylor senior Odyssey Sims.

The 5-8 Sims has already claimed the Hall's Frances Pomeroy Naismith trophy which she'll receive at Monday's award show of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). It goes to men's and women's players less than average size who excel in the sport.

Immaculata, which went 60-2 in the three-year championship era, is the second women's team to earn induction, following the Redheads touring team which was enshrined in 2012.

Overall 10 teams have earned induction such as the Harlem Globetrotters entertainment squad, the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" that had NBA greats Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Charles Barkley, and coached by former NBA and Penn coach, the late Chuck Daly; and the Texas Western men's team that won the 1966 NCAA title with five African-Americans in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, former Temple star Guy Rodgers was previously announced a direct elect receipient out of the veterans committee while recently retired NBA commissioner David Stern earned direct elect status as a contributor.

Immaculata's honor follows a strong Philadelphia women's representation in the hall that includes Dawn Staley, inducted last year; Rush, Auriemma, and Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who on Saturday guided the Scarlet Knights to the Women's NIT title following Drexel's championship last season.

Rutgers is also bound for the Big 10 after spending one season in The American conference with Temple, Connecticut and Louisville, which will replace Maryland in the ACC.

More to come

-- Mel



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Sources: Immaculata Championship Era '72-74 Earns Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Honors

( Guru's note: A full extension of this post will appear on philly.com Sunday afternoon. )

By Mel Greenberg

NASHVILLE --
Six years after former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush was inducted in 2008 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the three Mighty Macs squads she guided to AIAW national titles in 1972-73-74 will be joining her as part of the Class of 2014 honorees on the weekend of August 7-9 in Springfield, Mass.

Several sources confirmed Sunday that the Mighty Macs' championship era will be among the inductees introduced when the official announcement of this year's class is made Monday at the NCAA men's Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The sources asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the Hall or Immaculata and the announcement was not yet official.

Judy Marra Martelli will represent the team at the press conference in Arlington, where her husband Saint Joseph's men's coach Phil Martelli is also in town for the men's finals.

Several persons here at the women's finals were aware of the Immaculata honor but people have declined to speak until after Monday's press conference.

"They deserve to get inducted," said Hall of Fame Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma of the reports here at the Women's Final Four prior to guiding his unbeaten Huskies (38-0) against Stanford (33-3) in the national semifinal game Sunday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

Auriemma saw the Mighty Macs play when he was growing up in suburban Philadelphia.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Guru's Musings: Rutgers Gets to Women's NIT Semifinals

By Mel Greenberg

For the fourth time in the history of the Rutgers women's basketball program the Scarlet Knights are in a poatseason final four, though for the second time not in the NCAA tournament.

Rutgers edged host Bowling Green 55-50 Monday in the Women's NIT on the road in a hostile environment and thus advanced to the semifinals in what is now an intriguing storyline.

Before moving on to the Big Ten, which though not official until July 1 is defacto official once the final horn of the season sounds, Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer's group gets a bit of a do-over Wednesday night when they travel to Tampa to meet South Florida in one of the semifinals.

In a semifinal on the other side of the continent, UTEP will meet South Dakota State.

It was South Florida that upset the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, N.J., near the end of the regular season that resulted in the Bulls finishing third and Rutgers, in their one year tour of duty, landed in fourth in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The consequence was that the Knights had to deal with Connecticut in the semifinals of the conference tournament as opposed to dealing with a lesser poison, but poison nonetheless, in facing Louisville.

The difference is that with the burden of the move to a lighter schedule for this season, for a variety of reasons, a chance to beat Louisville and then face Connecticut in the championship might have been enough to tip the scales to an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

That's how it was looking forward. However, looking backward, it might not have made much of a difference.

The Bulls took Louisville down to the last few seconds and weren't given the time of day by the NCAA committee so nothing could be assured that life would have been altered if history ran a different course for Rutgers.

So there is a revenge factor to use as motivation though at this point the smell of a trophy might trump all other issues.

But the fact that Rutgers got here, fending off noble challenges from Delaware, Harvard, and especially the overtime affair with Seton Hall all at home prior to Monday's ability to prevail over Bowling Green, can now give you insight as to why the Guru posed a question to Stringer at the end of the postgame press conference that Saturday afternoon a month ago after Rutgers had been waxed for the third time by UConn, which is also on its way to a Final Four to defend its NCAA title.

Normally, the Guru would have passed on the opportunity to mention the WNIT at all, knowing Stringer's longtime stance of not giving the event any attention.

But, in fact, if Rutgers ended up not getting into the NCAA, the question would come up at that point if not a few days earlier.

However, the Guru first of all referenced the experience of Drexel a year ago and coach Denise Dillon who only minutes after suffering the heartbreak of a near-upset of the Elena Delle Donne-led Delaware squad in the Colonial Athletic Association title game was asked about the WNIT.

Dillon embraced the opportunity telling the media that if one is a competitor why would you not want to keep competing.

She even noted it would be nice if the tournament had 100 games instead of six.

Three weeks later, Drexel found itself in the national spotlight for winning the championship and was able to carry around a great feeling all summer.

And so as Stringer talked about her team in the same mode of being a competitor, the Guru broached the question to his longtime friend even at the risk of the finger wagging that came his way during the response about he of all people should know her longtime stance on the WNIT.

Well, but he also thought what might be better to sign off on as the final memory of the season -- another crusher by the Huskies or the hoisting of a trophy that actually jump starts you to the whole new era ahead.

And the Guru thought Stringer might be at that same place, because after calling the Guru on his lack of memory, she suddenly shifted gears and said the following:

"Probably what's best for the team is that we take advantage of the experience, the opportunity, one to practice, to play, to compete," she said. "But, don't tell anyone else that, because we're planning to go to the NCAA."

And here we are -- a chance for a little revenge and a chance to win it all and keep the WNIT title in the Guru's PhilahoopsW family.

By the way, the other three Final Fours involving Rutgers were the 2000 NCAA Final Four in Philadelphia and 2007 NCAA event in Cleveland, and in Philadelphia in 1982 when Theresa Grentz was the coach, the last AIAW tourney which consisted of the teams, many solid, that didn't make the initial jump to the NCAA.

Abandon Ship?

The trouble with people who tweet links, many at their own papers for those who are still at their own papers, many times they promote stories in their areas but don't provide promotional codes such as The Inquirer and Daily News tweet to get users past firewalls.

So it was not possible to read the total coverage by the Knoxville contingent over Tennessee's loss to Maryland in the Louisville Regional semifinal Sunday.

But the headlines certainly sparked curiosity because it is hard to fathom whether the same words might have appeared if Pat Summitt was still at the helm of the Lady Vols.

Again, sometimes the headlines are actually more suggestive than the actual coverage so it is hard to totally gauge what was written, so just take this as an observation.

Master Charges of the Notre Dame Regional

With all the talk of special meetings this week in Nashville concerning the state of women's basketball -- marketing on Friday highlighting the presentation of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and the NCAA's own massive sessions on Monday as another follow-up to the White Paper produced by Val Ackerman late last spring -- it takes two to tango.

Unless there is such insulation that no one running the show was aware of the outrage on twitter (many from reputable beat writers) and on TV the way the Notre Dame-Baylor game was called, it would seem some display of accountability would go a long way to at least offer some explanation of what went down.

And the Guru is not saying it has to be a specific on the record communication. But if it was a mess and addressed aftewards just make people aware so at least the next time this kind of thing occurs -- and it could happen as early as this weekend -- at least there's a comeback to the man in the street that the powers know they have a problem and they're working on it.

And the Guru offers Exhibit A.

Since he was not at a Regional for reasons previously explained, he happened to be in a restaurant that actually had the game on a big screen. (He was prepared to go with his iPad and Watch ESPN app.)

Here's the good news -- People actually seemed to have some knowledge (the name Notre Dame has a way of drawing interest) and were paying attention to the contest.

Here's the bad news -- the officiating was turning them off big time.

And it is with mixed emotions writing this because one member of that crew works many games back here and there is always a nice exchange of plesantries pre-game and during timeouts during the season.

But back to the bottom line. If you think all is great in the world because the number one goal was achieved by placing the site at Notre Dame -- a sellout crowd.

Guess what? To paraphrase a radio message that became noteworthy during Apollo 13 in the glory NASA Days: Indy? You got a problem.

There is a post under this that also went up with enhanced details of Monday's announcement of the 10-member women's all-American team picked by the United States Basketball Writers Association.

-- Mel




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Guru's College Report: An Enhanced Look at the USBWA All-Americans

By Mel Greenberg

On Monday the 10-member women's all-Americans chosen by the membership of the United States Basketball Writers Association were announced.

Here is the link to the site that will cover most of the basics.

http://sportswriters.net/usbwa/news/2014/allamerica140331.html

Beyond that here are additional notes and also some enhanced information on some of the honoress as sent to the Guru from the sports information directors of the various university athletic programs represented.

This was compiled prior to the start of the Elite Eight round on Monday though at this hour at least five of the honorees -- three from UConn and two from Notre Dame -- have advanced with their teams to the Women's Final Four in Nashville, Tenn.

One more will be determined between Maryland's Alyssa Thomas, a three-time honoree, and Louisville's Shoni Schimmel when the two team meet Tuesday night while Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike and her Cardinal teammates can also advance with a win over North Carolina.

This is the first time since the Guru was been put in charge of coordinating women's basketball activities and honors for USBWA that there was a clear break between the 10 players receiving votes and the next two, who were ahead of everyone else but no close enough to the ten to seek consensus of opinion on the last several picks.

Maryland's Thomas, incidentally, join past honoree Crystal Langhorne, a star with the WNBA Washington Mystics, as a three-time selectee from the Terrapins.

With eight seniors picked this season the only repeat possibilities next season are sophomores Jewel Loyd of Notre Dame and Breanna Stewart.

This was Shoni Schimmel's first pick and second selectee from Louisville joining previous honoree Angel McCoughtry, an All-Star with the WNBA Atlanta Dream.

Freshman of the year will be announced later in the week while the coach of the year and Ann Meyers-Drysdale player of the year will be announced Sunday in the NCAA interview room 3:30 p.m. locale time prior to the tip of the first national semifinal game.

The Pat Summitt Most Courage Award will also be presented.

All credentialed media are invited though those who are not but wish to attend should email the Guru quickly poll416@gmail.com to establish access for that particular event as was done last year in New Orleans.

That said, here is some more on some of this year's honorees:

KAYLA McBRIDE, Notre Dame
Senior • Guard • 5-11 • Erie, Pa. (Villa Maria Academy)

As not only the ACC Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team all-ACC choice, but also a unanimous first-team All-America pick by espnW and a prime candidate for numerous National Player of the Year and additional All-America honors, McBride’s play already was receiving notice on several levels, but she’s taken that effort up more than a notch this season.

McBride is averaging career highs in scoring (17.4 ppg.), rebounding (5.3 rpg.), assists (3.9 apg.) and assist/turnover ratio (1.93), ranking among the top 15 in the ACC in scoring (10th), free throw percentage (2nd - .882; also 12th in nation), assist/turnover ratio (4th), assists (eighth) and three-point percentage (10th - .376).

In addition, McBride shares the team lead with 12 20-point games, has a double-double to her credit (23 points/11 rebounds at No. 3 Duke on Feb. 2) and a team-best 10 “5-5-5” games (at least “5” in three of the five statistical categories – points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals).

Yet, what puts McBride a cut above virtually every other player in the land in her uncanny ability to raise her game on the biggest stages. In Notre Dame’s 12 games against Top 25 opponents this season, she is averaging 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .456 field goal percentage (89-of-195). She’s even better against top-10 teams, averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game with a .505 field goal percentage (51-of-101) in those six outings.

In fact, dating back to last season, McBride is averaging 18.6 points per game in her last 26 games against ranked opponents, including 10 20-point games.


JEWELL LOYD, Notre Dame
Sophomore • Guard • 5-10 • Lincolnwood, Ill. (Niles West)

Loyd has continued her development as one of the top young talents in the country this season, already collecting espnW second-team All-America and ACC Tournament MVP honors, plus first-team all-ACC and All-ACC Defensive Team accolades, in addition to being a central figure on virtually every major national player of the year watch list.

The Lincolnwood, Ill., product currently ranks seventh in the ACC in scoring (18.5 ppg.), sixth in free throw percentage (.824), eighth in field goal percentage (.529) and tied for 12th in steals (1.6 spg.), while sporting career-high marks in scoring, rebounding (6.4 rpg.), assists (2.2 apg.), steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. She also has a team-high 12 20-point games thus far (including a career-high 31 points at No. 8/6 Maryland on Jan. 27) after scoring 20 points twice during her rookie campaign.

What’s more, Loyd has two 30-point games to her credit this season, having also dropped in an even 30 against Central Michigan on Dec. 22 at Purcell Pavilion. Loyd is the first Fighting Irish player to have two 30-point games in the same season since 1999-2000, when Ruth Riley did so against Liberty (32) and Miami (36).

Perhaps giving a preview of things to come, Loyd stormed out of the gates this season, piling up 63 points in Notre Dame’s first three games, wins over UNC Wilmington (19 points), No. 19/18 Michigan State (22 points) and Valparaiso (22 points).

Loyd’s opening-week point production was the highest for a Fighting Irish player in the first three contests of a season since 1998-99, when Danielle Green had 66 combined points in wins against No. 6 UCLA at home (23 points), at Butler (23) and No. 6/4 Duke at home (20).

STEFANI DOLSON, Connecticut
Senior * Center * 6-5 * Port Jervis, N.Y.

Dolson, the 2013-14 American Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Sportsmanship Award winner, is enjoying a stellar senior campaign, averaging 12.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The senior ranks 12th on UConn's all-time scoring list with 1,747 career points and became only the fifth Husky all-time, along with Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Rebecca Lobo, and Jamelle Elliott, to register at least 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

BRIA HARTLEY, Connecticut
Senior * Guard * 5-8 * North Babylon, N.Y.

Hartley, an American Athletic Conference First Team member, ranks second on the team with 16.5 points per game and now sits in ninth place in UConn scoring history with 1,942 points, including 20 points in the Huskies' second round win over Saint Joseph's on Tuesday. The guard became just the third Husky, joining Moore and Diana Taurasi, to register 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. Earlier this month, Hartley was selected as a semifinalist for the James E. Sullivan Award, which honors the nation's outstanding amateur athlete.

BREANNA STEWART, Connecticut
Sophomore * Forward * 6-4 * North Syracuse, N.Y.

Stewart has been one of the nation's most prolific players in the 2013-14 season, earning both American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and espnW Player of the Year accolades. The sophomore is averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game and has reached double digits in 27 straight games. Stewart was recently chosen as one of four finalists for the 2014 Naismith Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate basketball player.

All three UConn players are included on the John R. Wooden Award Final Ballot and were selected to the American Athletic Conference First Team and All-Tournament Team.

MAGGIE LUCAS, Penn State
Senior * Guard * 5-10 * Narberth, Pa.

Lucas closed out one of the most prolific careers in Penn State and Big Ten history. The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year ranks second at Penn State and fourth in Big Ten in career scoring with 2,510 points. She owns the Big Ten and Penn State record wit 365 career three-pointers, which also ranks 12th in NCAA history.

She is also one of the most prolific free throw shooters in conference and school history. Lucas owns the free throw percentage mark for both the Big Ten and Penn State at a .907 career clip and has broke the Lady Lion record for career free throws made (547) and single-season free throws with 185 this year.

A three-time All-Big Ten first team selection, Lucas is the only player in school history and just the sixth player in the Big Ten to accumulate 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists and 200 steals.

SHONI, SCHIMMEL, Louisville
Senior * Guard * 5-9 * Mission, Ore.

Schimmel is leading the Cardinals in scoring with 17.0 points per game. She also leads the Cardinals in assists with 3.8 per game.

She recently became just the second player in school history to score 2,000 career points along with former standout Angel McCoughtry. She currently ranks second on Louisville's all-time scoring list with 2,124 points.

Recently Schimmel was named a second team All-American by ESPNW and earned WBCA Region I honors. She was named a first team All-American Athletic Conference and earned all-tournament honors.






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