Monday, March 31, 2008

Since everyone loves the pictures so much, I have more for you from today's press conferences.




I'M FREE!

Coke is here and I can live again. Yes, the world is good.
Like most people, I need caffeine to get my day going. Even when the day doesn't start until 1 p.m., it's still a need of mine. Maybe even a craving.

Getting to the coliseum for today's press sessions with UConn and Rutgers I find there is no coke, diet coke, etc. Have some coffee? I hate it. I like the cold, carbonated stuff.

The lady overseeing the snack table told me that one of the tournament's sponsors, Coke, decided that its supply for Saturday and Sunday was more than enough.

Hey, NCAA, maybe you should rethink your sponsors.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who would have thunk it? All season long, the talk was whether UConn could avenge its loss to Rutgers in last season's Big East Tournament finals. Then in February, the Scarlet Knights dealt the Huskies their only defeat of the season. Sure, the Huskies avenged the defeat to close out the regular season, but everyone waited to see what would happen in the conference tournament.

But something funny happened on the way to Hartford. Rutgers lost to Louisville, ending any hope and hype of a rematch.

Just when both sides thought they were clear of each other, the NCAA selection committee played a cruel joke on both teams by placing them as teams 1 and 2 in the Greensboro region. Now that each team has won three games, they are set to meet again Tuesday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

For everything these squads have gone tbrough this year, it's only fitting that they need to go through each other to make it to Tampa next weekend.
Who wants more photos? That's what I thought, so here you go...





Tina Charles just fell to the ground holding her left shoulder. She is in pain and has now left the game.
It might have been the best -- and most important -- four and half minutes of her career. The lift Brittany Hunter gave the Huskies in the opening moments of the second half with a 6-0 run to open up the game cannot be understated.

Also, Maya Moore needs two more points to set the new single-season Big East freshman scoring record.
Just a tad under five minutes to play and the Huskies are in a battle with the Lady Monarchs. It hasn't helped that both Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery haven't looked good.

I've been impressed with ODU's Tiffany Green. She's displayed some nice moves in the paint keeping UConn defenders off balance.
Since the last post, Charde Houston entered the game and the Huskies have opened up the game to a nine-point advantage. It's a 9-3 UConn run since Houston subbed in.
At the first time out, the Huskies are clinging to a one-point lead, 8-7, over the Lady Monarchs. Tina Charles entered the game moments ago, and with that in mind, Charles, Maya Moore and Renee Montgomery are 0-for-2 from the floor. UConn's approach right now is to get baskets in transition or to pound the ball inside with Brittany Hunter or Kaili McLaren. Both of have been active on the boards, but it hasn't proven a difference maker just yet, as ODU looks like a confident team that isn't affraid of the big, bad Huskies.
Tip-off is just minutes away at the Greensboro Coliseum. The crowd is sparse, maybe a couple thousand. And in what may be a surprise, the crowd -- based on noise level -- is pro Old Dominion. It doesn't hurt that the Rutgers fans are also cheering on the Lady Monarchs.

For those who have wondered who will start at center, Tina Charles or Brittany Hunter. It's official: Brittany gets the nod for the third consecutive game. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Husky fans rejoice! Lorin Dixon may actually play tomorrow. She's needed to get her academics in order before Geno Auriemma would let her suit up.

He said this of the freshman who turned 19 today:
“Today is her birthday, so she’s a year older, she’s much wiser than she was yesterday, has a lot more experience, sees things a lot clearer, so she’s grown up a lot in the last 24 hours,” he said. “So I’m inclined to give her an opportunity this coming weekend. How much of the piece of cake she gets though remains to be seen.”

As for Dixon, she feels she let her teammates down.

“It’s just something I had to go through,” Dixon said. “It’s just something I hadn’t learned in previous years that I needed to go through before moving on to any other thing in college. The fact that it happened now, I’m glad that it happened sooner rather than later. I wish it never happened at all.”

Fill in the blank.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is _________
Here are some more pics from today: We have a glimpse of Rutgers' practice today, Scarlet Knights Heather Zurich and Essence Carson, part of the 18 fans watching Rutgers practice and Matee Ajavon, Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn at the team's press conference.






Here are some pictures from rainy and cold Greensboro

We have the scoreboard that in the media work room. It shows us how much time is left in a team's practice session. Next are three of Old Dominion's players speaking to the press about tomorrow's game, and finally one of several framed sections of the wall signed by visitors of the coliseum. This segment includes Stevie Nicks, Coach K, Brett Michaels of Poison and Little Steven.


Friday, March 28, 2008

For all you Husky fans in Greensboro, there is an official UConn fan headquarters:
Natty Green's Pub and Brewery
345 S. Elm St.
336-274-1373

And in case you were wondering, Rutgers' official fan headquarters is the bar next door to Natty Green's. It's called Grey's Tavern.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesday's game was exactly what I expected from Texas. Its post players couldn't finish -- even on layups -- and Maya Moore, Renee Montgomery and Ketia Swanier were so suffocating on defense that the Longhorns just ran out of options. All night, Texas kept trying to force plays against UConn, and when that fails and the Huskies score on the other end, that's what you get -- a 44 point loss.

Moore was simply amazing. It wasn't her best game, but it was the game she controlled the most, which is the next step in her evolution. When she begins doing this nightly -- not just every other night, she will win every major award in the country and the Huskies will be viewed as favorites hands down until she graduates.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Talk about making a statement! The Huskies are on a 21-6 run to start the second half, slamming the door on the Longhorns. UConn leads 69-36 with 10:07 left in the game.
Maya, Maya, Maya...she's got 14 points to 13 for Texas. It's that kind fo night as UConn already has a 16-point lead and the arena is rocking.

Tina Charles, showing some determination, got the ball on the lower right block, faked her defender into the air by going left and went right for the layup and the foul. After missing the free throw, UConn has a 29-13 lead with 11:35 to play in the half.
I just commented to a friend of mine sitting to my left that the Huskies haven't come out with this sort of energy in well over a month. They are all over the court, swarming on defense, getting to the loose balls and making their shots as they are driving to the hoop and finding the open shooter.

It's 13-4 and everything is going their way. If the Huskies can prevent a Longhorns run, this one could be over befor the half.

BTW: It's official, Old Dominion advances with an 88-85 win in OT over Virginia. ODU hit a trey with four seconds left in the extra period and UVA missed a game-tying shot with one second left.
During pregame introductions....a near sellout with the exception of a couple hundred seats in the endzone near the Huskies' bench.

This should be a good one. With the Virginia-Old Domion winner waiting in the wings, I think this will be the toughest test for UConn until it possibly faces Rutgers.
Same starting lineup for the Huskies as Sunday. There's no doubt the message Geno Auriemma is trying to send Tina Charles is one that she needs to recognize and act upon immediately.
According to a report in the Indianapolis Star, Indiana prep star Kelly Faris has verbally committed to play for UConn beginning in 2009.
The junior averaged 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists and led her Heritage Christian High School to its third consecutive Class 2A state championship this season.

Upon my entry into the arena, a security guard says, "Are you ready for the big night? Women's college basketball!"

Clearly tongue in cheek, my new acquinatance doesn't share the same passion for the game as most everyone in the building tonight. I'd like to have thought it to be an isolated case, but then another security person said something about Eliott Spitzer in a non relating news manner that was far from clear to me. Maybe it's best that way.

But the final disservice is when the two televisions in the media work areas and neither is tuned to sports. There was a replay of this morning's Red Sox-A's game from Tokyo. Why not watch that? What was on TV numero uno? MTV.

And the second?

How about the Food Network's Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.

The guy watching the show was probably not looking for ways to make his next gathering one with a beautiful floral theme, complete with napkins turned into a mix of carnations and birds.

This is what should be a great has turned into for the disinterested. Sorry there aren't any dunks -- unless Maya Moore surprises us tonight -- but this is worth watching.

Far more worthy than a lesson in how to match your plates and cups.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Lorin Dixon was not with her teammates today as she was back on campus taking an exam. Apparently her teammates were able to postpone their exams until later in the week but she was not.


Geno Auriemma said Dixon needs to stop believing that college is like high school in that her talent will be enough to get the job done. He also said that as of today, he's not inclined to play Dixon against Texas tomorrow night.
With the Huskies and Longhorns set to do battle Tuesday, here's some Texas mascot info:

*The school's mascot was not always a steer. It used to be a pit bull named Pig.

* You may have noticed that Bevo, the current mascot, was wearing the no. 1/2. That's because it isn't the primary mascot; it's the backup, according to a Texas band member (credit given to Zac Boyer of Rivals.com for asking the band member in the parking lot).
OK, I'm back home and it's late -- or early depending upon how you look at things.

Maybe this doesn't make much sense, but I just didn't think the Huskies played that well in the first half against Cornell. This is by no means my trying to be the glass half empty guy. In fact, I think its more half full. Why? Look at how UConn played in the first half then in the second. Night and day.

Yes, part of the second-half success was that the game was over and Cornell wasn't going to be able to do much of anything. But it's also to show you what can happen when the entire team is clicking.

Sure the first half saw Maya Moore not score a bunch of points as we've become accustomed to and Tina Charles didn't start and was downright awful, plus Renee was in a daze. Now, if someone told you those three things would happen in the tournament, by a show of hands, who would have figured the Huskies to lose the game? Raise your hands. C'mon...yes, you, too.

And that's my point. Moore didn't score a lot in the first 20 minutes, but she played good defense, worked the boards, found her teammates with passes. Montgomery generally played good defense and was still the floor general , and while Charles was nowhere to be found, Kaili McLaren scored the team's first five points, Brittany Hunter looked as good as I've seen her since December and Charde Houston has been on a role for four or five games now.

This doesn't even begin to touch on Ketia Swanier, who filled up the stat sheet in a Moore-like fashion; and how about Meghan Gardler. This is a player who knows where to be and how to get there. It's pretty common to see players without a clue out there -- Gardler isn't one of them. Don't laugh, but she's going to grab a rebound that will ultimately make all the difference in whether the Huskies win a game or not at some point in this tournament.

If you are Texas Tuesday night (9:30 p.m. tip off), you hope the game was a fluke. You hope all of the role players forget theirs and that Charles struggles and Moore looks like she did against Louisville and Pitt in the conference tournament and that Montgomery has a period of rare mental lapses.

Speaking of Montgomery, she's what worries me the most. Twice in roughly three weeks, Geno Auriemma has said she's looked asleep during games (at DePaul, Louisville) and throw in Sunday's game and you have to wonder if she's tired mentally or physically. For all of the hype around Moore, the most important player on UConn's team is Montgomery. Take her away and it's good night.

Maybe she's not feeling challenged, but in my conversations with her this weekend, I wouldn't buy that explanation. She's missed an unusually high amount of free throws, especially for someone so reliable at the line; not to mention fouling a Cornell player tonight, allowing her to shoot three free throws. Yes, Montgomery "wakes up" in the end, as Auriemma puts it, but what if she doesn't? Texas is much better than Cornell, and they use three guards similar to UConn. They are the focal points of the offense, which means Montgomery, Swanier and Moore will be busy all night.

The Longhorns have big, athletic forwards but they seem to have some issues finishing plays. This will be a great test for the Huskies. They get past Texas and either Virginia or Old Dominion will be waiting in Greensboro.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

About Dixon, this is what Geno Auriemma had to say:
“Maybe it’s a New York thing, I don’t know. Lorin falls into the same patterns of maybe I will, maybe I won’t; sometimes I will, sometimes I won’t. My feeling is if you’re going to play basketball at Connecticut, if you’re going to play at this level in this program as long as I’m coaching here, there’s a certain way that it’s going to get down. That means in every single area. And if it’s not done in exactly that way, your playing time is going to suffer.”
Not only did Tina Charles not start, but her Christ the King teammate Lorin Dixon has yet to enter the game with 3:35 on the clock and the Huskies leading 87-41. Jacquie Fernandes and Cassie Kerns have been in the game a little bit now, so you know there is more to this story.

I'll get back to you on that later....
In a change from the opening stanza, the Huskies now seem to have everyone going on all gears: Montgomery Charles, Houston, Hunter, Gardler, Swanier and Moore are simply having their way against the Big Red. Of course this is what is supposed to happenm right?

Let's give Cornell credit here, though, they are playing with heart even though nearly every shot fails to find the inside of the rim.
Here's what stood out in my mind for the first half: Meghan Gardler. In eight minutes, she has seven points, two steals, two assists and a rebound. Compared to Tina Charles' three points, two rebounds, one steal and three fouls in seven minutes, Gardler looks like an all-american.

What is she doing? She's making smart passes, she's boxing out, she's crashing the boards, she's hustling, she's taking shots only when they are present. These are things that good players do -- they play within themselves.

Charles hasn't looked good and neither has Renee Montgomery. Maya Moore is tied for the game-high in scoring, but hasn't be as much a factor on the scoreboard as she has on the glass and in doing the little things.
During a timeout, a video was played highlighting Tennessee's championship season from a year ago. Upon the start of the video, the fans at Harbor Yard jeered, which was done with the mention of Pat Summitt and Candace Parker. And when it was over, a fan yelled, "Yea!"
The Huskies jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the opening 3:10 and in that subsequent 1:17, Cornell has got five sraight points heading into a timeout. UConn is simply playing like a team that's confused by what its seeing from Cornell, which is a defense swarming any ball handler in the post as well as keeping the Huskies honest on the perimeter.

UConn may want to consider pressing on defense.
Tina Charles is not starting, Brittany Hunter is in her place. Guess who's in the dog house? That should tell you something when you consider that Hunter didn't practice Saturday.
Not quite gametime....about 15 minutes away. The arena is considerably more filled than it was during the earlier session today. The Kansas State-UT-Chattanooga game and Miami-Louisville games saw maybe 1,000 fans. Now? Try 8,000 or so. The makings for a great tournament game environment is in place.

Both schools' bands sound good so far, too.

UConn was just out on the court and looked relaxed. Cornell, on the other hand, looks tense as if it knows what's to come.

Louisville advances to face Kansas State here Tuesday night. Miami's Laura Parkwood (center, on the floor) had her career end on a sour note. Not only did her team lose, 81-67, but she needed to be helped off the floor following a foul. In her final collegiate game, Parkwood had 13 points and eight boards.
The second game here is Miami of Ohio against a team UConn fans are familiar with -- Louisville.

I've discussed here and in the paper the outragous comments made by Cardinals coach Jeff Walz, most note worthy is how the Big East Tournament being played in Hartford cost his team the tournament, not, say, turnovers. Anyhow, Walz didn't waste too much time complaining. He was in the ear of one official before the game even began.

Lord knows just about anything could have or might have been said to get the coach worked up, but that's not likely. He's just overly emotional.

He's a good guy and a good coach, but PLEASE stop whinning.


It's gameday in Bridgeport and already in the opener there was some history. Kansas State, which held off Tennessee-Chattanooga, set a tournament record by making all 21 of its free throw attempts. Eight schools have previously shot 100 percent from the floor, but none has made as many as the Wildcats. Rhode Island hit all 15 shots in 1996 against Oklahoma State.
Here's a video of Mel Thomas shooting during Saturday's open practice. Give the video a moment to load. It's a large file, so it takes some time.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

ESPN, still pushing to get UConn’s side of the story regarding the end of the series with Tennessee, decided to use the Huskies’ press conference as its chance to beat a dead horse.
An ESPN reporter asked coach Geno Auriemma a Tennessee related question and was told by the tournament moderator to keep questions tailored to this weekend’s games. After being rebuked, another ESPN staffer asked a similar question and debated with the moderator over what can and can’t be asked. Infuriated with its lack of success, one of the reporters followed Auriemma in hopes of extracting an answer.
Why, after ESPN was denied at the Big East Tournament, is the cable sports network continuing to push the situation?
It is airing a feature Sunday morning on “Outside the Lines” on the UConn-Tennessee rivalry.
There is something to be said about paying attention to the smallest details. As in this picture...



It's Day One of the festivities in Bridgeport. Right now Kansas State is practicing and will be followed by UT-Chatanooga. There's mostly Connecticut media here right now, but that will change soon enough as everyone slowly filters in.

Check back for pictures and video over the next four days.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vote on the new poll -- you can vote on more than one team. And also be sure to sign up for the women's tournament bracket challenge I set up.

Just go to ESPN.com, click on women's basketball and then on tournament coverage and then on tournament challenge. Once you sign up, look up public group named "NB 2008."
Just a few tidbits worth noting....

*Elena DelleDonne was named the McDonald's girl's high school player of the year.
* Geno Auriemma was named the WBCA Region I Coach of the Year.
*Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore were named to the State Farm Coaches' District I All-America Team

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UConn has issued an official statement regarding the Maya Moore/ESPN incident:

"Concerning the recent reports relating to our women's basketball program, the University of Connecticut maintains a strong commitment to NCAA rules compliance. After learning of allegations last year, the University and the NCAA have completed their review of all the facts and circumstances. This review resulted in a self-reported secondary violation. The institution worked cooperatively with the Association and information was recently submitted following standard NCAA procedures. The University and the NCAA now consider this matter closed."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

With the tournament just days away, here's your chance to go head-to-head with me and whoever else joins the group. Head to ESPN.com and sign up for the tournament challenge and join the public group named "NB 2008."
Any of Husky fans out there who plan on attending games in Bridgeport, Greensboro or Tampa, drop me a line, especially those of you from the eastern part of the state, I'd love to talk to you about the Huskies.

You can reach me through this blog. Just leave a number or e-mail address -- don't worry, I won't post your info.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Huskies are the No. 1 seed in the Greensboro region and will face off Easter Sunday against Cornell, coming out of the Ivy League.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This whole Maya Moore/ESPN story is a non-story made into one by the good folks at ESPN and Tennessee.

If a tour of ESPN was so bad, then why wasn't UConn penalized in the last 2 1/2 years? Because it made no difference. This is just the Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt being a pain in the rear to the Huskies' Geno Auriemma.

I feel bad for her, I do. She's so worried about getting hammered by UConn she's resorted to allegations of cheating that she can hide behind when the inevitable happens.

Just wait, Pat, your day is coming.
Here are two videos. One is the final seconds of the game against Louisville. The other is Charde Houston receiving her Most Outstanding Player award.

video


video

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Here are some pics from throughout the tournament. It was a memorable five days, starting with the awards banquet all the way through tonight's great championship game.

Renee Montgomery ignoring my question...just kidding.

Ketia Swanier doing the interview thing

Charde Houston talking to folks like me after the championship game

Huskies great Shea Ralph working on the Pitt bench

The Louisville mascot during the Cardinals win over Rutgers.

DePaul's band, which was the best in town
Let's start by making this clear: there is no doubt who the No. 1 team in the nation is and there is no doubt who should be treated as such when the NCAA selection committe meets this weekend in Indianapolis.

UConn showed itself to be as battle tested as it is talented. But there are reasons to be concerned. Two straight games that Ketia Swanier was scoreless in the second half; two straight games the Huskies stunk in the second half; no one was clearly dominant over three games.

Geno Auriemma was just happy that his team was able to win tonight, and that's fine. He should feel that way. A major hurdle has been cleared and now the team can use a much needed break before it plays again on Easter Sunday in Bridgeport against a team yet to be named.

The time away should help Maya Moore, who is definitely feeling the foul from the regular season finale against Rutgers. She said she wasn't 100 percent on Friday and three games in three days doesn't help.

What Auriemma did say bothered him was that Renee Montgomery looked out of it in shootaround and for most of the game. It was when Louisville came within a point that her eyes lit up as if she knew what to do. That she sleepwalked for 35 minutes didn't sit well. I am sure he's already said something. He's not worried about her, after all, she's the captain. But knowing how Geno needles his players, "Ne-Ne" is no exception.

"Renee was asleep today from shootaround," Auriemma said. "There was a segment in shootsround today that she didn't move from one spot for 10 minutes. She was guarding the shooter, so she didn't move for 10 minutes. Then she showed up tonight, missed a couple shots; she snoozed through the whole first half. In the second half, you knew that if she got a chance she's going to start making plays. The one things about Renee is that she's so competitive that she gets so mad at herself when she doesn't do what she thinks she can do. So any chance she gets to get on the line to put the game away, she loves that scenario. ... She was smiling from ear to ear."

He later said: "The thing that bothers you as a coach was that was the only time Renee looked like we were going to win the game. As soonas they cut ot to one, she had this look like, 'Alright, now it's time to play.' Like she was bored the rest of the time. I'm like, 'You know what? Knucklehead, if you hadn;t been snoozing all this time it wouldn't be a one-point game. God bless her; she's a gamer."
Angel McCoughtry foulded out for Louisville, but unlike last seaosn, played with class and grace. This is a talented young woman who should be applauded for her efforts this weekend.
Now that the game and tournament are near completion, here are my picks for the all tournament team and most outstanding player.

All Tournament: Angel McCoughtry, Candyce Bingham, Renee Montgomery, Ketia Swanier and Tina Charles.

Most Outstanding Player: Charde Houston.

Huskies lead 61-54 with 26.9 seconds left.
Charde Houston has six of the last eight points for the Huskies. She may end up as the tournament's most outstanding player.
The Cardinals are one a 21-6 run to get within one, 48-47.
McCoughtry is not having a good night -- five points and two fouls. This could turn into a repeat of last season's tournament game between teams if she's not careful.
There was a scramble for the ball and amid the tussle for the ball, Louisville coach Jeff Walz clearly called for a timeout multiple times and the official closest to him ignored his requests.

The Huskies got possession, came down court, Renee Montgomery missed a three and grabbed her rebound before hitting a short jumper.

Now Ketia Swanier is on the line. She's given the Huskies a 12-2 ru and a 19-8 lead.
If seeing Maya Moore and Angel McCoughtry go one-on-one isn't enough to excite you, I don't know what is. These are two of the very best not only in the Big East, but in the nation.

Watching them guard each other as well as move away from the ball gives a great appreciation for what these women can do on the court.

McCoughtry has had a fantastic Big East Tournament and, if Louisville were to win tonight, will be named the tournament MVP. There are two other candidates for that honor, both from UConn: Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery.

Keep an eye on Louisville defensive rotations that leave Charles covered by the two or three in the post. The Cardinals aren't trying to go small on Charles, that's just dumb. But they swing bigger players out onto the perimeter to make the outside shots for Moore, Montgomery and Swanier more difficult.

So far, that's not happening as the Huskies are on a 7-0 run and lead 14-6 with 14:44 to play in the half.
Game time is less than two minutes away andt he XL Center is packed to roughly 60 percent capacity. If this arena is too big to hold a conference championship game, then the game needs to be moved out of Hartford -- and Connecticut -- after next season.
There is some fallout from the end of the Rutgers-Louisville game. Scarlet Knights coach C. Vivian Stringer expressed her unhappiness with Kia Vaughn for leaving the court and not participating in the post game handshake. But more significantly, she is having Matee Ajavon write letters of apology for her kicking of a tray of water bottles after the loss.
There had been some speculation that the NCAA Tournament selection committee would place UConn, even as the overall No. 1 seed, in Oklahoma City. Why? Because the theory would be that ticket sales would push them further from home. The NCAA says they want the top team to play closest to home as possible, which would be Greensboro. But putting North Carolina in Greensboro and Tennessee in New Orleans is sexier for sales.

My take: if you put UConn in either Oklahoma City or Spokane, Wa., you are saying it isn't the top No. 1 team.

On a conference call taking place at this moment, the women's tournament selection committee chairwoman Judy Southard said the team deemed No. 1 overall will be placed as close to its campus. Therefore, if UConn wins tonight against Louisville, they will go to Greensboro. If they lose, expect North Carolina to get Greensboro and UConn going to New Orleans. Tennessee would and in Oklahoma City and Stanford, who I presume will be the fourth N0. 1 seed, would be in Spokane.

My guess at the top four seeds at each location...

GREENSBORO
1. UConn
2. Maryland
3. Duke
4. Old Dominion
NEW ORLEANS
1. North Carolina
2. LSU
3. Texas A&M
4. Kansas State
OKLAHOMA CITY
1. Tennessee
2. Baylor
3.California
4. Oklahoma State
SPOKANE
1. Stanford
2. Rutgers
3. Oklahoma
4. Utah
The latest AP poll came out Monday and UConn picked up 49 of 50 first-place votes. The only voter not giving the Huskies the nod is Lynn Jacobsen of the Tulsa (Okla.) World. She voted for North Carolina. I have to assume that Ms. Jacobsen didn't notice UConn won the game between teams.

Also worth noting is that Vic Dorr of the Richmond Times-Dispatch finally moved UConn up in his poll. He had them at seven. Now they are No. 1.

Monday, March 10, 2008

To be frank, tonight's win over Pittsburgh was ugly. Had the Huskies been facing a top-10 team, they would have lost.

What happened in that second half? UConn just took the game for granted and decided t go into cruise control. It's March, and you simply can't do that. The way Louisville is playing -- back-to-back wins against ranked teams for the first time ever -- they are on a high and are not just ready for UConn, but WANTS UConn.

Does anyone remember how the Cardinals' star, Angel McCoughtry, had her tournament end last year? She fouled out and was heckled by the Huskies' fans.

"I know a lot of people are probably going to underestimate us tomorrow," she said. "That's fine. We're going to give it what we've got. ... We're not going to back down from UConn. I think a lot of teams are afraid of just the name. We're not going to back down."

Also keep in mind that when UConn went to Louisville in January, the Cardinals played them tight for 20 minutes and the talent of the Huskies eventually took over. UConn also still had Mel Thomas.

So if you are UConn, you just played a bad half that a good team would have pounced upon and next up is a team that wants to play you. That's not a great mix.

UConn has played a few games where it came out taking a win for granted. Its lucky to have this wealth of talent because it covers up so many mistakes and flaws. This being said, do I think the Huskies will turn around and play anything close to what happened in the second half tonight? Not at all. They know what they did and they know how to correct those issues. To that extent, the Huskies aren't worried.

But if UConn rests on Louisville, we'll see the Huskies coming away empty handed in the conference finals once again.
It's all set, the Big East Tournament championship game will be held between UConn and the seventh seed Louisville. And here's the stat du jour: Of the 10 tournament games played so far, the lower seed has won five times. Does it happen a sixth time? We'll find out tomorrow.
Maya Moore could not break the scoring mark she shares with Diana Taurasi, leaving the game with just seven points.
Just over four minutes into the second half and the Huskies are playing as a team that believes the game is already in hand. Sloppy play, petty fouls and general disinterest should be deadly sins of basketball.

Wisely, after another turnover, Geno Auriemma called a time out. While the team has a 22-point lead, there's plenty of time for Pitt to comeback if UConn lets it.
Charde Houston keeps up her good play. She's scored the last two buckets for UConn and is going to the line after sinking a beautiful baseline jumper and drawing the foul. If -- and this is a very big if -- Houston can play this way for three and a half more weeks, she can be the difference in whether the Huskies win close games or not.

It may seem odd hearing that when you think about the close games where she didn't show up or missed critical shots, but maybe this time the coulda, woulda, shoulda is real.
The Huskies are simply having their way with the Panthers. Marcedes Walker, Pitt's standout center, had three shots at the basket and was unable to convert, missing the first two attempts before Maya Moore blocked the third.

With a 20-7 lead 9:21 into the game, UConn is getting open shots in the paint, on the perimeter and in transition. All that usually adds to a bad night for the opponent. At this rate, look for a 40-point win, because what's scary is the Huskies aren't even in a groove yet.

Worth noting...off the opening tip-off, Moore got the ball all alone and looked as if she was going to dunk, but settled for the safety of a finger roll. Trust me, the writers want her to dunk as much as the fans do; it would just make for a nice "I was there moment."
No question this has been a special, if not magical, freshman season for UConn's Maya Moore. Consider what she's done to date:

*Big East Player of the Year, the first time a freshman has ever won the award
*Big East Freshman of the Year
*Named Big East Freshman of the Week a record 10 times
*Named to the Big East's All-Freshman Team
*Set a new UConn freshman scoring record, passing Svetlana Abrosimova's old mark in seven fewer games
*Set the new team record for most consecutive games scoring in double figures to start a career

Tonight, if Moore scores 10 points or, er, more, she will break the program record by scoring in double figures in 32 consecutive games. Currently Moore shares the record with Diana Taurasi, arguably the greatest player in school history. Taurasi set the mark from Feb. 19, 2003 to Jan. 27, 2004.
Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell intervened on the part of UConn women's basketball fans and convinced ESPN to broadcast tonight's Big East Tournament semifinal game on CPTV.

Originally, the first three days of the tournament were slated to be seen on ESPNU only, but Gov. Rell contacted the president of ESPN after many of UConn's fans complained that their cable carriers either do not carry ESPNU or require an elevated service package.

The game, between the Huskies and Pittsburgh Panthers is slated to tip-off from the XL Center at 6 p.m.
The finalists for this year's Wooden Award were announced today and the UConn Huskies have two of the 17 finalists. The winner will be announced on April 12 in Los Angeles.

The finalists are:
Natalie Doma, Idaho State
Sylvia Fowles, LSU
Amber Holt, Middle Tennessee State
Tasha Humphrey, Georgia
Crystal Kelly, Western Kentucky
Crystal Langhorne, Maryland
Erlana Larkins, North Carolina
Angel McCoughtry, Louisville
Maya Moore, Connecticut
Courtney Paris, Oklahoma
Candace Parker, Tennessee
Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers
Andrea Riley, Oklahoma State
Angela Tisdale, Baylor
Kristi Toliver, Maryland
Candice Wiggins , Stanford

I have to think this comes down to about a third of the players, with Moore, Parker, Fowles, Langhorne and Paris being the main contenders. Logic would say that with Fowles besting Parker for SEC player of the year that Parker is out, but that's simply not how awards work.
There are still tickets available for both of tonight's games as well as tomorrow night's championship game of the Big East Tournament.

It's costs $30 for a ticket that grants admission to both games tonight or for one tomorrow.

The schedule:
Tonight, UConn vs. Pitt at 6 p.m.; West Virginia vs. Louisville, 8 p.m.
Tomorrow, the winners of each game, 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Here's something all Huskies fans love to see...turn up the volume! Give it a moment to load.


video
The big questions were 1) was DePaul that tough of a matchup for UConn and 2) would UConn struggle against DePaul a second time.

The answers, we learned, are 1) kind of and 2) no.

In fact, Geno Auriemma attributed some of his teams first-half problems to carry over from shootaround this morning.
"I wasn't too hapy with them a t shootaround this morning, so that might have carried over. This team's funny....when I say that and i get mad at them, they allget together and say 'we're going to punish him.'"

The only punishing was done to DePaul, which had no answers for the Huskies inside and no other way to resolve its inability to make outside shots consistently. That's the Blue Demons' bread and butter. Take that away and they become.

A quick glance at the stats and you see the Huskies went from a 10 rebound advantage last week to nearly 20, 50-32. They also outscored the Blue Demons in the paint, 52-30.

That will be a little tough tomorrow night against Pitt and Marcedes Walker. The Panthers ahve been struggling the last month of the season. They needed to beat Notre Dame and now, as long as they are competitive against UConn, can go into the NCAA Tournament feeling good about itself.



I promised you pictures. Here they are: The second one is during the t-shirt giveaway I mentioned earlier.




The two biggest rounds of applause in this game came when Pitt assistant Shea Ralph walked off the court with her team and when the Huskies took a 30-point lead.
Well, this one is just about in the books. Too much Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Ketia Swanier, Kaili McLaren and Charde Houston. DePaul is left to heaving threes out of desperation.

BTW: Moore tied Diana Taurasi's team record of 31 straight games scoring in double figures.
I had a good chuckle over this and hopefully you will, too.

As the second half was getting set to begin, th eentire arena was clapping along to the warm-up music. That's everyone except the half of a section filled with Rutgers fans. To see a few thousand fans clapping and having fun and then there are 30 or so decked out in red sitting with their arns crossed.

C'mon people, have some fun and show some life. It's just basketball.

I'll have a photo later. Oh, and even during the t-shirt toss, the Rutgers fans stayed put. I have pic of that, too.
Could it be?

It's a bird? No.

It's a plane? No.

It's Charde Houston coming off the bench with three straight baskets for the Huskies, building the lead back to eight, at 27-19.

Considering how maligned she has been this year, to see her step up is much needed right now with Maya Moore struggling to make shots.
Ketia Swanier leaves the game and all Quigley breaks loose. DePaul is on a 15-9 edge over the last six minutes, thanks to Quigley making her shots and the Huskies looking lost on offense.

Maya Moore seems to be fighting the ill-affects of being fouled hard Monday against Rutgers, as she has made just 2-of-8 shots.
First media timeout and the Huskies lead 6-2. What stands out is that the Huskies are putting good pressure on the Blue Demons' Allie Quigley. Quigley is too god to not create her own shot, but she's taken a few bad shots as well as those that just didn't sink in.

UConn's missed its fair dhare of shots, but the missed shots and turnovers by DePaul have presented a few fast break opportunities. On one turnover, Ketia Swanier got the ball near DePaul's foul line --and three feet behind Missy Mitidiero. By the time Swanier reached her own 3-point line, she had already passed Mitidiero by a couple of feet for an easy layup.

Now if the Huskies can stop committing silly fouls.
It's a lively, yet sparse crowd at the XL Center. The Huskies took the court with about two minutes until game time, giving a slight hint of drama.

There are decent number of fans from Rutgers and DePaul here, too, which makes the atmosphere nice. That's what makes tournament season special.
Notre Dame can't blame anyone other then itself for the collapse it suffered today. Up 12 and it ends up losing by 11. For Pitt, it was a game it really needed only because it struggled the final weeks of the season. Even if the Panthers lose tomorrow to UConn, it can feel good going into the NCAA Tournament.
Pitt, despite sloppy play, has clawed back into the game and has taken a one-point lead, 19-18, with 1:40 to play in the opening frame. The key has been playing with a smaller, faster lineup that has allowed the Panthers to move around quicker to find open shots.
Assuming that UConn advances, it will face either Notre Dame or Pittsburgh, the teams playing right now in Game 1 of the day. Eight minutes in and Notre Dame leads by a 14-2 margin with 10:49 left in the half. The Panthers look awful, with Marcedes Walker having better luck picking up fouls than points.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A lot of people have been wondering about Maya Moore's injured tailbone/lower back, this is what she told me last night:

“I’m nursing it. I don’t think I’m 100 percent right now, but I’m getting there. It’s getting better every day and its tough playing with any type of nagging injury. I’m fine, I can play and I’m going to do my best.”


Here are some pics from last night's banquet. The second photo isn't great because I had to get my arm -- and camera -- through about 10 people. I'll have more as the tournament progresses.

Friday, March 07, 2008

It was a big night for the Huskies at the league award banquet. Maya Moore became the first player EVER in ether men's or women's basketball to win the league's Player and Freshman of the Year awards. She was also named to the First Team All-Big East and All-Freshman teams.

Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery were also first team selections, while Ketia Swanier was named the top sixth man and Lorin Dixon made the all freshman team.

Geno Auriemma shared Coach of the Year honors with Syracuse's Quentin Hillsman.
Tonight is the Big East awards banquet. Here is my early prediction for the awards. I will preface my picks by saying that I think a few of the UConn players will get the short end of the stick. Why? The league's coaches have penalized the Huskies for having as much talent as they do. Based on my knowledge of some of the players nominated for awards (including Olayinka Sanni, West Virginia's first-team All Big East center being nominated for most improved), there are some odd nominations. I do think Ketia Swanier will get the sixth man award only because a lot of attention has been paid by media outside of Connecticut as to whether she's eligible or not. Now that everyone knows she is, if she doesn't win, there will be a good outcry. Not to mention an angry Geno.

So without further ado...

Player of the Year

Angel McCoughtry, Louisville

Freshman of the Year

Maya Moore, UConn

Most Improved Player

Shavonte Zellous, Pitt (she won last year)

Defensive Player of the Year

Angel McCoughtry, Louisville

Sportsmanship Award

Allie Quigley, DePaul

Sixth-Man Award

Ketia Swanier, UConn

Coach of the Year

Quintin Hillsman, Syracuse

First Team All-Conference

Angel McCoughtry, Louisville

Renee Monthomery, UConn

Shavonte Zellous, Pitt

Essence Carson, Rutgers,

Tina Charles, UConn

Maya Moore, UConn

Allie Quigley, DePaul

Charel Allen, Notre Dame

Krystal Ellis, Marquette

Matee Ajavon, Rutgers

Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers

Second Team All-Conference

Olayinka Sanni, West Virginia

Shantia Grace, USF

Ketia Swanier, UConn

Kia Wright, St. John's

Diedre Naughton, DePaul

Marcedes Walker, Pitt

Laquita Owens, West Virginia

Meg Bulger, West Virginia

Kia Vaughn, Rutgers

Chandrea Jones, Syracuse

Monique McLean, St. John's

All-Freshman Team

Maya Moore, UConn

Erica Morrow, Syracuse

Angel Robinson, Marquette

Keisha Hines, Louisville

Ebonie Williams, Seton Hall

UConn coach Geno Auriemma, along with Tennessee's Pat Summitt, LSU's Van Chancellor and Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer have been named finalists for coach of the year.

This is a tough one because you have four teams that returned just about everyone (only Tennessee lost a key player); one coach new to his team (Chancellor); another coach who lost two starters but still has the most talent (Auriemma) and another who continues to improve a program out of ashes (Stringer).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I will be on the radio tomorrow morning at 6:50 a.m. on 102.3 WXLM discussing the Huskies as they ready for the Big East Tournament. Check it out.
Add another to the list...Elena Delle Donne, of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Del., was named the 2008 Naismith National High School Basketball Players of the Year, following in the footsteps of soon-to-be teammate Maya Moore.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In just her first year with the UConn women’s basketball team, Maya Moore has made quite the name for herself. One day after leading the top-ranked Huskies to the Big East’s regular season championship, Moore became the first freshman in conference history to be named its player of the week.

She was also named Freshman of the Week.

Is Player of the Year next? We'll find out Friday.
Here's the schedule for the Big East Tournament, which begins Saturday:

Saturday
Game 1: No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Villanova (noon)
Game 2: No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 DePaul (2 p.m.)
Game 3: No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 St. John's (6 p.m.)
Game 4: No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 11 USF (8 p.m.)

Sunday
Game 5: No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Game 1 winner (ESPNU, noon)
Game 6: No. 1 Connecticut vs. Game 2 winner (ESPNU, 2 p.m.)
Game 7: No. 2 Rutgers vs. Game 3 winner (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
Game 8: No. 3 West Virginia vs. Game 4 winner (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)

Monday
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (ESPNU, 8 p.m.)

Tuesday
Game 11: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner (ESPN2, 7 p.m.)

Monday, March 03, 2008

This was definitely a special win for the Huskies, who spent the last week on the road playing tough games with LSU and DePaul. Geno Auriemma said he tried to have the team do as little as possible the last few days so not to wear them down. He also told them they can be exhausted as Big East champs or exhausted as "slugs." He's got a way with words.

It's also important to note the contribution from Kaili McLaren. In reality, she made life hellacious for Rutgers. McLaren had a solid all-around night with seven points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists. What she did in the high post, combined with Tina in the low post, the UConn forwards created matchup problems for Rutgers all night. At one point, Rutgers went with four guards to try and use speed against UConn's big players and that didn't work. There was one play where I wanted to gauge hustle and what I saw was McLaren start off after the rebound as the player furthest away from the ball. By the time she got to her spot, she had passed three Rutgers players and one of her teammates up court. That isn't speed; that's heart.

Heart is something cliche in sports and in journalism. Scribes such as myself may write about heart as if its a jump shot. If you practice heart enough, it comes to you. Not excatly. Few player truly have heart and you know it when you see it. For as much gruff as Auriemma give shis squad, Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Kaili McLaren, Lorin Dixon, Charde Houston, Brittany Hunter, Ketia Swanier and Meghan Gardler all showed heart.

Rutgers didn't show its heart. Kia Vaughn, is normally displaying her heart on her sleeve. Not tonight. Same with Essence Carson and Epiphanny Prince. Not here. I know they tried hard, but when trying hard doesn't get the job done, heart gives you the courage to fight through your woes.

Don't worry. These teams will meet again and I suspect it will be in the conference tournament title game. Just remember, the Huskies blew away the Scarlet Knights in the season finale last season only to be thumped in the tournament. We saw the difference Moore makes when she can play by staying out of foul trouble. If her medical report comes out OK, the rest she'll get from days off Tuesday through Friday will be valuable. The first-round bye helps, too.

Maybe she won't play against Marquette or DePaul. Not likely, but the Huskies could probably win without her in those matchups.

Anyhow, three big games in eight days. Now the games get bigger.
Accepting the conference championship trophy, fittingly, Mel Thomas and Kalana Greene.
Who is the best in the Big East? Without any question it is UConn. The Huskies win the conference title with a 66-46 win.
Maya's limp is pretty bad. Hopefully she is OK and can make use of the rest between now and Sunday's game.
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is sitting on the bench with hr hands over her head. Why? Because there is nothing she or her team can do to change what happened here.
The air was nearly sucked out of the arena as Epiphanny Prince intentionally fouled Maya Moore as she made a breakaway move to the hoop. The hard foul led to Moore coming down on her back and came up limping and in pain.

The boobirds are giving it to Prince and rightfully so. That was an unnecessary foul. Moore is out of the game and stretching on the sidelines. Kaili McLaren shot the free throws and Renee Montgomery hit a 3 to make it a 20-point game.
Renee Montgomery hit another NBA 3 to give the Huskies a 15-point lead.

Lorin Dixon leaves with 4:11 on the clock. She was incredible. She came in with a four-point lead and leaves with one of 15.
If Rutgers does not make a stand now, they will be blown out of the XL Center. Everything is going the Huskies' way: Fouls, rebounds, shots and most of all, hustle. Hustle makes all the difference, especially when you want something more.

UConn by 12 with 6:13 to play....timout called by Rutgers.
The Huskies are smelling blood. As they walk off for a timeout, Renee Montgomery beckoned the crowd with her waving arms to get louder. Less than eight minutes away from the conference title.

As for Dixon and Houston, neither has hurt UConn. Dixon looks more poised than a month ago and made a great rebound while falling down and maintained her dribble. This is the kind of effort she needs to go into the conference tournament with some confidence.
Moore's jumper has pushed the lead to 10 for the Huskies.
Lorin Dixon and Charde Houston are in with a four-point lead. Needless to say, this stretch with them on the court will likely prove the decisive moments of the game.
And in a matter of seconds, Swanier has foul No. 4.
Swanier stays in the game.
Ketia Swanier just picked up her third foul with just over four minutes expired in the second half. It will be interesting to see if the Huskies go with her coming out of the current timeout or if the choice is to rest her for a few minutes and play Lorin Dixon. With a six-point lead, Dixon would be a risky call by Geno Auriemma, but one that should give the freshman some confidence.
The teams have been trading baskets for much of the first 3:36, which is unusual for a game featuring the top defensive teams.
The verdict is....foul and 0.4 seconds are on the clock.

Moore misses the first.

UConn 28-23 at the half.
The Huskies have gone ice cold and Rutgers heads into the break down five.

Just now, the officials are ckecking of a foul committed against Maya Moore happned before time expired. If before the buzzer, Moore shoots one-and-one to end the half.
I was just informed by a UConn spokesperson that the game is not a sellout, but the university expects the final total to be over 15,000 fans. That makes me wrong in thinking there was more for the St. John's game.
In return, Brittany Hunter knocked over Rashidat Junaid and there was no call.

Another post player, Tina Charles, has been very active. Despite not making five-of-six at the line, she had seven points and drew another foul on Junaid, who has two.
Another bad call...Moore gets the inbounds pass, takes a shot to the face and no foul is called.
Swanier and Brittany Hunter are coming into the game.
Coming out of the timeout, Rutgers employed four guards: Essence Carson, Epiphanny Prince, Matee Ajavon and Brittany Ray.

UConn has brought in Lorin Dixon and the Scarlet Knights immediately went to the press.
Moore strikes again!

She steals the ball and on the other end finishes the play with her third three-point basket, giving her 13 and the Huskies a 23-13 lead with 7:08 on the clock.

Timeout Rutgers.
Tina Charles is making her third trip to the line and is in need of at least one to drop in. She got the second to fall, ending her 0-for-5 streak.
With Renee Montgomery's split of two free throws, the Huskies are a sorry 1-for-5 from the line.
Geno Aurimma's just picked up a technical foul after arguing a bad call by referee Bill Titus. He alleged that Ketia Swanier was guilty of a blocking foul. There have been some bad calls against UConn and some not called.

Kaili McLaren came down with a rebound earlier and was pushed in the back, but no foul was called.

Matee Ajavon faked past Renee Montgomery and than traveled, but she was allowed to continue.

On Moore's off-balance three, she was interferred with, but no call was made.
Two travel calls, one pass thrown away, one three-second violation and four missed shots (1-for-5) has not helped Rutgers, which is trailing 10-2. Moore just set the new freshman record for points with a jumper at 15:36. She has eight of UConn's 10 points.
Moore, Moore, Moore....back-to-back threes for the freshman, who has tied Svetlana Abrosimova for the all-time UConn freshman scoring mark.
Two possessions for Rutgers, two turnovers. Not that UConn has fared better with a few missed shots until Maya Moore's off balance trey.
The university just honored Norm Prisell, who served as the official scorer for over 20 years. Tonight is his last game.
I'll give the near capacity crowd some credit. During pregame introductions they made some decent noise. Now if they can keep it going from start to finish.
Pat yourselves on the back, Huskies fans. The game is NOT sold out. The Biggest game of the year and there might be more people at the St. John's game from Gampel than for tonight's contest.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Here's the deal, folks. Amazingly there are still tickets available for tomorrow night's game in Hartford between UConn and Rutgers. If this game is not a sellout, every Huskies fan who does not attend should be ashamed of themselves.

In the last week, UConn has played two road games in which the crowds at LSU and DePaul put the best crowd at either the XL Center or Gampel Pavilion to shame. Why can't the Huskies be given a better home-court advantage? Or is it just good enough to sit at home and watch it on CPTV because $15-$22 is too much when you throw in $10 for parking and another $10 for a drink and popcorn or whatever? Carpool with a friend and split the parking and share the popcorn. That's enough because you should be too busy screaming to eat anything. We don't want popcorn-related choking.

You don't think those women who you cheer for don't notice the drop off between a home crowd and a road crowd? This is your Tennessee game now. Pat Summitt isn't about to walk through the door to give you a reason to pack an arena.

If UConn's biggest rival on the last day of the season with the conference title up for grabs isn't enough to get you out the door and into a seat, what is?
Right now, I'm sitting at O'Hare airport and reflecting a bit about my stay in Chicago. This is my second visit here and I like it even more after this trip.

I'll start with the little things that made my stay exceptional.
* My hotel. It was $10 more than where I stayed at in Baton Rouge and the total opposite. Assigned to the Bellagio of the South, a.k.a the Dis-Comfort Inn, outside of a comfy bed, it was a dump. The people there were more than nice and made me feel at home as much as possible.
Here, the Renaissance O'Hare was bordering on luxurious. The staff bent over backwards, and with the exception of some bad directions, acted as if they were my personal staff.
* Dinning. This was my birthday weekend and as a gift, I was given a dinner at Harry Caray's steakhouse. I have two words for you: Holy Cow. Another two? Poterhouse steak. It was truly one of the best meals I had ever had. No worse than top three. It's up there with Juban's in Baton Rouge and Delmonico's in Las Vegas.
The staff followed up my great steak with a key lime cheesecake. The wait staff came out and said, "It might be, it could be, it is! Holy Cow! Happy Birthday!"
* Entertainment. After dinner, a trip over to the famed Second City Comedy Club was in order. I love laughing, so checking out some of the best up-and-coming comedians was a can't-miss for me. Two hours later, Second City delivered the laughs I wanted.
This leaves me with one question: Why isn't the Big East Tournament held here? I understand proximity to the team whose fans travel the most, as well as proximity to the league headquarters in Providence, but this place needs to be given a good, hard look.
Accomodations aren't hard to find, games can be played at AllState Arena, where DePaul's men's team plays and with so much to do here, events can be planned around and tailored for the tournament.
At the risk of sounding condesending, I'm really surprised that you guys have even voted for Allie Quigley. I figured that at best, even after her strong performance against the Huskies, that she wouldn't have gotten more than a vote. But three so far?

It just surprises me because usually players from other teams or their teams don't get much love here; just look back at the older polls.

What it does tell me, presuming that only UConn fans voted, is that there isn't as much homerism going on. Not that it shouldn't be expected. Afterall, do you know how hard it is for me to say anything negative about the Yankees? Trust me, I much rather eat hagis.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

How Taylor Pikes missed that final shot, I don't know. She was wide open and from my perspective, was one of those plays where everything goes in slow motion and you are holding your breath.

It was senior night for DePaul, and the looks on the faces of Deirde Naughton and Allie Quigley were ones of devestation. It's understandable.

They still have positioning to worry about for the Big East Tournament next week.

Assuming that UConn, DePaul, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Pitt, Louisville and Marquette win their final games, this is how the brackets should look for the first round.

No. 5 Pitt vs. No. 12 Villanova, winner faces No. 4Notre Dame
No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 DePaul, winner faces No. 1 UConn
No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 10 St. John's, winner faces No. 2 Rutgers
No. 6 Louisville vs. No. 11 Georgetown, winner faces No. 3 West Virginia
It's hard to look at one area and say that's why the Huskies were able to come back from 17 down to win, but an area that I think made the biggest difference was turnovers.

At halftime, this was the breakdown:

UConn: 14 turnovers for 13 DePaul points
DePaul: Six turnovers for eight UConn points

In the second half:
UConn: Five turnovers, three DePaul points
DePaul: 10 turnovers, 13 UConn points

Understandably, not all the turnovers came on steals -- UConn had seven -- but it was UConn's pressure defense that did the trick. Don't be too surprised if UConn uses the press on Rutgers, sort of giving a dose of its own medicin. I admit, however, that Rutgers does have an impressive pressure package that I don't know if UConn can match,
Let's make sure this is clear -- even if UConn had lost the game, it still would have won the Big East if it won Monday against Rutgers in Hartford.

With that in mind, it makes what the Huskies did tonight even more impressive. They could have given up, but didn't. With the wins at LSU and DePaul, the Huskies have lots to ride on going into Monday and beyond.

"We can take a sense fo confidence. We were in a hard enbvironment, down 17 points, and we managed to find a way to come back. I think if we're ina situauation in the tournament where it looks like there's no way we can win, we can always think back on these last couple of games and give us a sense of accomplishment -- we've done it before and we've done it again."
A foul was called on Tina Charles at or near the buzzer, as she came down on Allie Quigley. Right now, officials are reviewing whether the infraction happened during regulation or not.
FYI: Even if the Huskies lose tonight, they win the division Monday with a win over Rutgers because of the tie breaker -- a win over West Virginia.
On the heels of UConn's run, DePaul has one at that's at 8-0 and counting.
In a sign that either she's feeling OK or that the post play has been that bad, Brittany Hunter has entered the game.
Just like that, in a matter of two minutes, 51 seconds, the Huskies reel off a 9-0 run and retake the lead by one, 23-22.
The Huskies are trailing by a score of 22-14 with11:54 left, and honestly, I think the Huskies have taken the Blue Devils for granted. Could they have their sights set on Monday's clash with Rutgers already?
Any talk of an injustice being served with DePaul's Allie Quigley being named conference player of the week twice over Maya Moore is being put to rest through the first seven minutes. Quigley has an 8-2 advantage in scoring.
It didn't take long for Geno Auriemma to have seen enough of Lorin Dixon. Less than four minutes in, the plus was pulled in favor of Ketia Swanier. In 20 seconds, the Huskies scored twice, including a jumper from Swanier. They had two baskets in the previous 3:44.
Outside by threes on the opening possession for both teams, it's been a whole lot of back and forth with missed baskets. Not much else.
Tonight is Senior Night for DePaul, and they're exhibiting some class, by holding their ceremony after the game, allowing the Huskies to conduct their post-game interviews sooner so they can leave ASAP.

That's great, but if DePaul loses, I'm not sure how much that diminshes the event.
I'll call the result predictable, but go ahead and vote on the right. After winning the last two Big East Player of the Week awards, is Alley Quigley of DePaul better than Maya Moore?