Thursday, April 17, 2014

More earth shaking

Coaching movement:

Jodie Kaczor Berry and Nicole Powell are leaving Gonzaga to be assistants for Kelly Graves at Oregon.

Cheryl Sorenson is Portland's new head coach.

Greg Todd is the new coach at Morehead State.

Chris Johnson has been added to the Arkansas staff as an assistant coach.

Landon Bussie has joined Prairie View A&M as an assistant.

Other movement:

WBCA CEO Beth Bass is resigning.

Drake starter Ashley Bartow has left the team.

WNBA news:

Sky center Sylvia Fowles will miss time at the beginning of the season after having hip surgery.

USA Basketball:

Furman coach Jackie Carson and Navy coach Stefanie Pemper are the court coaches for the U18 team trials, May 23-27.

Championship games schedule.

Diamond DeShields reasons for transferring from North Carolina are unclear

You probably know that earlier today, the rumors that had circulated yesterday that Diamond DeShields was leaving the North Carolina program proved to be true:

CHAPEL HILL — Diamond DeShields, the top freshman women’s basketball player in the country, is transferring from North Carolina.

DeShields’s decision is a stunning blow to a program that expected to return every player from this year’s team. The Tar Heels went 27-10 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008 despite the absence of Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell, who was undergoing treatment for leukemia.

DeShields scored 648 points, more than any freshman in ACC history, and set a UNC freshman record with 38 points in a win at N.C. State. The Norcross, Ga., native averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game and was named the freshman of the year by espnW and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Coach Sylvia Hatchell "doesn't know or understand" why DeShields is leaving.

DeShields tweeted yesterday that "There's no price on your peace."

I don't know yet why the young star is leaving, but I do know that right now it's looking like she'll next be a Georgia Bulldog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Draft, signing and plenty of college news

WNBA Draft and trade-related news:

With the draft over, surgery is next for Fever draftee Natalie Achonwa. She is a step closer to living out her dream.

Storm draftee Michelle Plouffe is a hoops trailblazer.

Jennifer Hamson may need a hook in the WNBA.

Rookies Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley are already getting praise from Mystics coach Mike Thibault.

The Lynx signed Tan White and traded Suger Rodgers to New York.

Three statistical trends among the draft prospects.

Monday night's draft was the most-watched ever.

(Unofficially I can vouch for that, as several of the guys at the gym stopped to watch it with me on TV. And some knew the players and talked with me about it. I was so pleased.)

More WNBA news:

Awesome piece profiling Brittney Griner's life playing in China this winter:

When teammates talk about Griner, they smile often, quickly bringing a hand to cover their mouths, because in China it is poor etiquette for women to show their teeth. "She never eats vegetables," Chen says, almost giggling. "She plays video games like she is a kid."

"She is always happy," adds Shen Binbin, a starting guard. "I never see her get angry. When the season is over, I'd like to go back to America with her."

"Me too," Chen says.

They both smile, keeping their heads down.

High school:

Top 2014 recruit A'ja Wilson announced today she is choosing South Carolina.

Her peers were happy for her.

College news:

Jaime White is Fresno State's new coach.

Louisville and coach Jeff Walz are working to remain elite.

Expectations are skyrocketing for South Carolina.

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp will take her time finding a new assistant coach after the departure of Christy Smith, who went to Arkansas.

Tom Hodges returns to Middle Tennessee State as an assistant after a four-year absence, during which he was head coach at Morehead State.

Former Husker Hannah Tvrdy has landed at Colorado State.

Another former Nebraska player, Sadie Murren, is transferring to Wayne State College.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WNBA Draft day after

Tina Charles addresses her decision to leave the Connecticut Sun:

"You are going to have ups and downs with a team, every day is not going to be perfect. I faced that my rookie year and I faced it my previous year. Connecticut has great parts but I looked at the bigger picture and the bigger picture was Coach Laimbeer, Cappie (Pondexter), the New York Liberty and the opportunity that they presented.

"My decision to leave the Sun is based on winning and being in New York. Coach Laimbeer and the Liberty organization is headed in the right direction and I very much want to be a part of that."

Some are bitter about Charles' departure.

Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer is happy:

''Acquiring Tina is one of the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward,'' said Laimbeer, the Liberty coach and general manager. ''She's a scorer and rebounder and wants to win very badly in front of her family and friends.

Essence Carson is happy too.

Other draft-related news:

ESPN gives teams draft grades, and the Eastern Conference leads the way.

Nneka Ogwumike is proud of sister Chiney's number one pick selection.

LaChina Robinson talks with Kayla McBride and Odyssey Sims.

Shoni Schimmel is excited to play with former Cardinal star Angel McCoughtry.

The top undrafted players.

College news:

Kansas State freshman Leticia Romero is requesting a release due to the coaching change, but the school refuses. Romero likens it to blackmail.

High school news:

Top recruit A'ja Wilson is at last going to reveal her college choice tomorrow.

Are unions coming to the NCAA?

A panel of administrators says the NCAA must change:

Many athletic departments are flush with cash thanks to multi-million dollar TV deals. Conferences have started their own networks, and coaches' contracts continue to soar.

Now athletes are demanding their fair share.

"The landscape as we know it for Division I is going to certainly change in some form or fashion," DeBauche said.

While DeBauche sees the current crisis as an opportunity to make college athletics healthier than ever, the panel also agreed the question now is how to do that.

"We have to have 21st century solutions," Barnhart said. "We didn't get to this problem overnight."

A regional National Labor Relations Board official cleared the way recently for football players at Northwestern to form what would be the nation's first union for college athletes. Northwestern has appealed the ruling, and the NLRB currently is weighing that appeal. The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference also oppose the ruling.

Northwestern players will vote April 25 on whether to form a union.
DeBauche said difficult conversations loom in the coming months. There's a gap between the top five conferences with the big-money deals, and she said the majority of the 32 conferences in Division I are more like the OVC. Money made by the conference goes back to members to pay bills. The conferences also need to protect non-revenue generating sports and meet Title IX requirements.

Other NCAA business:

The NCAA has voted to expand the meal allowance for athletes, after Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier complained last week that he often goes to bed hungry for lack of money to buy food. I wonder if this would have happened so quickly, or at all, it it had been one of the UConn women who had brought up the issue.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The wild WNBA 2014 Draft

Draft board:


1 Connecticut Sun (10-24), Chiney Ogwumike
2 Tulsa Shock (11-23), Odyssey Sims
3 San Antonio Stars (12-22), Kayla McBride
4 New York Liberty (11-23), Alyssa Thomas
5 Indiana Fever (16-18), Natasha Howard
6 Washington Mystics (17-17), Stefanie Dolson
7 Seattle Storm (17-17), Bria Hartley
8 Atlanta Dream (17-17), Shoni Schimmel
9 Indiana Fever (16-18), Natalie Achonwa
10 Chicago Sky (24-10), Markeisha Gatling
11 Connecticut Sun (10-24), Chelsea Gray
12 Minnesota Lynx (26-8), Tricia Liston


1 (13) Tulsa Shock (11-23), Jordan Hooper
2 (14) New York Liberty (11-23), Tyaunna Marshall
3 (15) Minnesota Lynx (26-8), Asya Bussie
4 (16) San Antonio Stars (12-22), Astou Ndour
5 (17) Phoenix Mercury (19-15), Tiffany Bias
6 (18) Atlanta Dream (17-17), Inga Orekhova
7 (19) Seattle Storm (17-17), Michelle Plouffe
8 (20) Atlanta Dream (17-17), Cassie Harberts
9 (21) Phoenix Mercury (19-15), Maggie Lucas
10 (22) Chicago Sky (24-10), Gennifer Brandon
11 (23) Los Angeles Sparks (24-10), Jennifer Hamson
12 (24) Minnesota Lynx (26-8), Christina Foggie


1 (25) Connecticut Sun (10-24), DeNesha Stallworth
2 (26) New York Liberty (11-23), Meighan Simmons
3 (27) Tulsa Shock (11-23), Theresa Plaisance
4 (28) San Antonio Stars (12-22), Bri Kulas
5 (29) Indiana Fever (16-18), Haiden Palmer
6 (30) Washington Mystics (17-17), Carley Mijovic
7 (31) Seattle Storm (17-17), Mikaela Ruef
8 (32) Washington Mystics (17-17), Kody Burke
9 (33) Phoenix (19-15), Stephanie Talbot
10 (34) Chicago Sky (24-10), Jamierra Faulkner
11 (35) Los Angeles Sparks (24-10), Antonita Slaughter
12 (36) Minnesota Lynx (26-8), Asia Taylor

But not so fast. The Liberty and Sun then made a trade: Tina Charles to New York for Kelsey Bone and Alyssa Thomas to Connecticut, plus the Liberty's first-round draft pick next year.

I was not surprised by this, as I'd heard rumors about how unhappy Charles was in Connecticut prior to last season even being over. It was just a matter of which team she would get traded to.

According to one reporter, Charles said she wouldn't play this season if she wasn't traded.

Then there was still more: the Storm dealt Bria Hartley to the Mystics, along with Tianna Hawkins, in exchange for Crystal Langhorne. This reunited Hartley with Stefanie Dolson.

More on the draft:

Draft blog.

Being picked number one is an Ogwumike family tradition.

Favor musings:

- Deepest draft in years.
- I bet Natasha Howard being drafted so high surprised many fans.
- I'm glad Markeisha Gatling was a first-rounder. She has been underrated.
- Wow - the Connecticut Sun has assembled quite the team. Some of my favorite players there now. They BETTER make the playoffs this year, with all those good ballers.
- Tricia Liston wasn't invited to the draft, and got picked 12th.
- I'm so happy to see Jordan Hooper, Tyaunna Marshall, Asya Bussie, Tiffany Bias, Michelle Pflouffe, Cassie Harberts, Maggie Lucas and Gennifer Brandon get picked up in the second round, especially. Harberts reunited with coach Michael Cooper could be really special.
- Meighan Simmons dropped further than some fans thought she would. Theresa Plaisance did indeed get picked up. Haiden Palmer, Mikaela Ruef, Kody Burke, Antonita Slaughter and Asia Taylor are the surprises at the end of this year's draft.
- San Antonio's picks will be puzzling for the average fan.
- What will Tulsa do with two point guards? I was thinking they'd try to trade Odyssey Sims.
- So basically the Sparks are saying they got all they needed from pre-draft trades?
- How are the Storm going to fill Lauren Jackson's shoes with whom they picked up?
- The Chicago Sky are going to be as tall as the sky.
- In 2001 the Fever drafted Tamika Catchings, who had recently torn her ACL and wouldn't be available until the following year. Today Indiana took Natalie Achonwa, who's in the same situation. Do they have a feeling about Achonwa like they obviously did with Catch?
- The New York Liberty are about to be very good, methinks. Ditto the Atlanta Dream, because fans don't know how good Celine Dumerc is yet.

Training camp starts April 27.

Coaching movement

Lisa Mispley Fortier moves from assistant to head coach at Gonzaga.

Maren Walseth is North Dakota State's new head coach.

Former SDSU coach Beth Burns will be associate head coach to Cynthia Cooper-Dyke at USC.

Oregon State associate head coach Mark Campbell has left to join Kelly Graves' staff at Oregon.

Christy Smith joins Arkansas as an assistant to new coach Jimmy Dykes.

The good and the sad

The good:

Georgetown has hired Natasha Adair as coach.

Former University of Houston coach Joe Curl died this morning of congestive heart failure.

More on the upcoming WNBA Draft

Tonight's draft will be 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.

The rest of the WNBA's team previews, which curiously omits the Los Angeles Sparks:






Fast facts.

The draft is just the first step for newcomers.