Houston Roundball Review: Women's Hoops

This is The Houston Roundball Review's (www.TheHRR.com) blog to discuss women's basketball. The HRR began in 1994 and has been media credentialed to cover college and pro hoops since 1997. Member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ticket App for 2010 Final Four Available

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The NCAA sent a press release today announcing the application for tickets to the 2010 Women's NCAA Championship is now available online. (Actually, tickets have been available since March 15, 2009.)

Ticket applications for the 2010 Women’s Final Four in San Antonio are currently available online and being accepted through May 31, 2009.

The all-session ticket book price of $175 will admit the bearer to the national semifinals on Sunday, April 4 and the national championship game on Tuesday, April 6, with all games played at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

2010 Women’s Final Four ticket applications are available online, and subject to the rules and terms set forth therein. One properly submitted application per individual / household will be accepted for inclusion in the NCAA’s ticket selection process, with each such applicant eligible to request a maximum of six ticket books. Approximately 10,000 ticket books will be allocated to the general public for the 2010 Women’s Final Four, with 2,500 of these ticket books designated for the lower level in the Alamodome.

The NCAA will use a random, selection process to determine successful Women’s Final Four ticket recipients in July 2009. Those individuals selected to receive tickets will be notified by the end of August. Individuals not selected to receive tickets will receive a refund of the full application deposit amount by the end of August.

Women’s Final Four tickets may not be offered as a prize in a promotion, sweepstakes or contest, or auctioned for fundraising purposes unless authorized in advance by the NCAA.

The NCAA reminds fans that purchasing tickets from secondary unauthorized vendors may result in fraudulent purchases. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets from NCAA member institutions and companies authorized by the NCAA to sell or resell championship tickets.

Good luck to everyone who applies!
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Monday, April 27, 2009

WNBA in the Cards

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced a multi-year renewal of its partnership with Rittenhouse Archives as the exclusive provider of WNBA trading cards.

The new set of WNBA trading cards will debut at the tip-off of the 2009 WNBA season on June 6.

The 2009 WNBA trading cards will be available for purchase at leading hobby shops across the country as well as the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The cards will retail at $99 per box.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Women don't Support Women's Sports

Simply put: Why don't more women support women's sports?

It's a simple question with a tremendously complicated answer. If America's population consists of more women than men, then why don't more women's sports succeed -- with the support of the higher percentage of women.

Since my focus is basketball, my point of concern is why don't more women support women's basketball?

Female friends of mine have told me many women don't like to see other women succeed. Some friends have said it's a generational thing -- women were taught women should not compete in athletics (never let them see you sweat type thinking). I've noticed many women seem to support one specific team (Husky Nation or Lady Vols Nation, etc.) instead of support the sport of basketball as a whole.

The 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Championship set record crowds at Ford Field in Detroit, MI -- 72,456 fans for the semifinal games and 72,922 for the championship game. However, the 2009 Women's NCAA Division I Championship did not sell out either of its three games in St. Louis, MO, at the Scottrade Center (with capacity of less than 20,000) as 18,478 fans saw the Connecticut Huskies cap off a perfect 39-0 season with a 76 to 54 victory over the Louisville Cardinals.

The city of Detroit is experiencing extreme economic difficulties; yet, the attendance for the men's games overwhelmed the numbers for the women's games.

What needs to happen to change the mindset of women in this country and generate more interest in women's basketball? Can that mindset be changed?

It seems more women would rather watch men play basketball than watch the women's game.

Is the thrill of dunking so intoxicating more women don't watch the women's game? If so, perhaps Brittney Griner's presence at Baylor University will generate a huge influx of interest in women's hoops by women because Griner can definitely throw them down! However, it seems to me Griner's dunks will only generate more interest from men than women.

The WNBA will begin its 13th season in a few weeks; yet, despite the support of rabid fans on Internet message boards, the W is unable to generate support and interest beyond those fans.

I don't have an answer to the lack of support by women for women's basketball; and, instead of placing blame on anyone, I would like to see a solution because women's hoops is very entertaining to watch and cover. 
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

What about Joe Curl?

HOUSTON, TX -- On March 27 of this year, Dave Maggard was the Athletics Director for the University of Houston. That day, Maggard stated Tom Penders, head coach of the UH men's basketball team, would return for his sixth season.

No similar statement was made regarding Joe Curl - the head coach of the UH women's basketball team.

On April 22, Mr. Maggard announced his retirement as the Cougars' AD.

Nearly four weeks have passed and not a single word has been spoken regarding Coach Curl's future at UH. Joe Curl's contract expires after the 2009 - 2010 season compared to the 2011 - 2012 season for Coach Penders.

I know the economy is tough for everyone; however, if Houston wants to re-sign Coach Curl or extend his contract, why hasn't UH said anything similar to the pat on the back given to Penders?

In his 11 seasons as head coach at UH, Coach Curl has done something that Coach Penders (five seasons at UH) has not -- led his UH team to the NCAA Tournament. Not just once but twice. In case you're wondering, that's two more times than Coach Penders has accomplished leading the men's team.

Now that assistant AD John Robinson will be the Interim AD at UH, is an announcement regarding Coach Curl's future at UH forthcoming?
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WATN: Octavia Blue, Asst. Coach

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Though I interviewed Octavia Blue last Monday, April 6, in St. Louis, I was unable to upload the video until now.

I've known her for years; and, Octavia is currently an assistant coach at St. John's University in New York.

I'm pleased with the interview -- except for the final moments when people seemed oblivous to the two of us and started talking (very loudly).

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Aggies' Gant Selected by Sky in 09 WNBA Draft

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Danielle Gant, 5'11 forward / guard, from the Texas A&M Aggies was chosen by the Chicago Sky with the 16th pick overall in the 2009 WNBA Draft Thursday afternoon.

Gant was one of five players from the Big 12 Conference chosen in the '09 WNBA Draft.

Courtney Paris (University of Oklahoma), was chosen by the Sacramento Monarchs with the 7th pick overall while sister Ashley Paris (OU) was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 22nd overall pick. Shalee Lehning (Kansas State University) was drafted by the Atlanta Dream with the 25th pick and Jessica Morrow (Baylor University) was also selected by the Atlanta Dream (27th pick overall).

Britney Jordan (Texas A&M - Commerce) was selected by the LA Sparks with the 35th pick overall in the Draft.
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

UNT's Shanice Stephens' Video Interview w/ The HRR

ST. LOUIS, MO -- I've known Shanice Stephens for a few years now. I met her when she was an assistant coach at Rice University; then, a few years ago, she became an assistant coach at Clemson University.

This past season was her first season as head coach at the University of North Texas. I asked Coach Stephens if she'd have time to let me interview her during some of her down time here in St. Louis; and, she said "yes".

(Little did she know, I was going to video the interview.)

Videoing interviews may be something I do more frequently in the future.

There are probably a few kinks I'll need to iron out; but, check it out:

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Huskie Nation Rides High Once Again

ST. LOUIS, MO -- For a 6th time, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team and coach Geno Auriemma can call themselves National Champions. A perfect 39-0 season with a winning margin of over 20 points a game. All you can do is shake your head and say, Wow!

There was very little Louisville could do in the title game. How could they expect to stop a team with 3 true scorers (Tina Charles - 25, Maya Moore - 18, and Renee Montgomery - 18) when they only had one (Angela McCoughtry - 23). It also doesn't help when you miss layup after layup. I commend Louisville for playing hard and doing everything they could to stay in the game. It just wasn't enough.

Congratulations to Tina Charles who had an outstanding game: 25 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. That is what gets you named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament.

Congratulations also go out to the other 4 members named to the All-Tournament team along with Tina Charles:

Maya Moore - Connecticut
Renee Montgomery - Connecticut
Angel McCoughtry - Louisville
Jayne Appel - Stanford
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Coquese Talks Penn State, Comets and WNBA

ST. LOUIS, MO -- After today's Women's Basketball Coaches' Association (WBCA) players' luncheon, I had a chance to speak with Coquese Washington - current head coach at Penn State University and former point guard of the Houston Comets.

The entire interview can be heard at this link.

However, I want to wrap up my gathering comments about the disbanding of the Houston Comets; so, here is that part of the interview:

HRR: Give me your thoughts when you heard the Comets were disbanding.
Coquese: When I first read it in the paper, I was devastated because I have so many, so many fond memories. I spent the majority of my time in the WNBA playing for the Comets - obviously, winning the championship there. My family moved down there. I have a very warm spot in my heart for Houston.

It's definitely one of the pioneering teams in the WNBA. When you think about the WNBA, one of the teams that comes to your mind is the Houston Comets -- Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, the four championships, Kim Perrot - so much history there. So much of the WNBA is synonomous with the Houston Comets; so, I was really devastated and disappointed to find out that a large chunk of the league history was gone away. But, hopefully, somebody can rally and we can an ownership group or somebody can come back in another year or two and revive and resurrect the franchise.

HRR: Had you heard any rumblings at all that they might not exist anymore?
Coquese: I had heard a little bit; but, not much to get me worried. You kind of hear about that in the last few years with the WNBA that there a few teams that may not make it; move; or something like that. But, I never really thought that it was that serious. I thought that somebody would come and buy the franchise because it had such a strong legacy and history. So, I was a little surprised that all of a sudden the team was just gone.

HRR: What are your thoughts on the future of the WNBA?
Coquese: I think that given this economic climate, it's in a tough position; and, we definitely have to keep our eyes and ears open about whatever kind of changes that can be made in terms of the structure of the league; the ownership of the league; how the league is run.

When I was in the league and active with the Players' Association, that was something that we talked about year in and year out -- the health of the league; the financial health of the league. What things can we do collectively with the players and the ownership to make sure that the league is structurally and financially sound. I'm sure they're going to have that kind of dialogue. If there are changes that need to be made, hopefully for the good of the league, the right people will make those decisions. 
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2009 WBCA Awards Luncheons

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Over the last few days, there have been a couple of WBCA Awards luncheons sponsored by companies Russell Athletic, Jostens and State Farm. Some of the award highlights of the luncheons were:

WBCA President's Award: Dr. Myles Brand, NCAA President
Maggie Dixon Division I Rookie Coach of the Year: Kelly Packard, Ball State
Recognition of Anne Donovan, 2008 Olympic Gold Medal-Winning Head Coach
Mel Greenberg Media Award: Chuck Schoffner, Associated Press
Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award: Kay Yow, NC State (posthumously)

A full list of award recipients can be found on the WBCA website.
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Monday, April 06, 2009

Nneka Sums up her Season and Looks Ahead

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Nnemkadi "Nneka"Bold Ogwumike and her Stanford Cardinal teammates lost 83 to 64 to the Connecticut Huskies Sunday night in a national semifinal game of the 2009 NCAA Women's Final Four. Though her team lost, Ogwumike (6'2", freshman forward) is very proud of her team's successful season. Stanford finished the season 33 and 5. Ogwumike played 26 minutes in the semifinal game and scored 13 points (6 for 12 from the field) and pulled down 12 rebounds (7 offensive rebounds).

(What are your thoughts on the game?)
"We came out with everything we had. UConn is a phenomenal team; and, they hit some great shots. Our goal was to keep on playing together and not lose our composure; and, I think we did a really good job of doing that."

(on defending Connecticut All-American Maya Moore)
"It's very difficult because she can get her shot off in any way. I practiced a lot trying to defend her. It wasn't easy. It definitely wasn't easy trying to guard the Wade Trophy winner / All-American; but, I definitely had to say she's a wonderful player and I tried my best guarding her."

(What did you learn from the Final Four experience and the game itself?)
"It's like no other experience. Definitely. It's absolutely one of the best experiences I will ever experience with this group of people. I couldn't have asked for more. I'm not looking anywhere else but ahead for our team; and, how much they've accomplished. I'm just really proud of everyone right now."

(What did Coach (Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer say to the team after the game?)
"She said that she was very proud of us. She said that UConn, granted, is a very good team. They hit a lot of shots. Our shots weren't going in. She said that she knew that we tried our best and that we kept on staying together."

(What are you going to work on this summer?)
"Probably my outside shot. Definitely. I think that's what I'm going to work on. Maybe a little bit of ball handling. (laughing) I want to take it one step at a time. I don't want to try to work on too much at once; but, gradually, I things will come if I practice a lot and work really hard in the off-season."

(What are your summer plans?)
"I have to try out for the (USA Basketball) Under 19 Team; so, depending on that, I'll probably be practicing and getting better. If I make the team, I'll be in Colorado Springs then we'll go play in Bangkok, Thailand; but, if I don't make the team, I'm just going to keep on practicing. Then, I'll probably be at home."

(Describe your thoughts about being invited to try out for the U19 Team)
"That's definitely wonderful! I was astounded when I was accepted the first two times. I mean the first time was the Festival and the second time we won a gold medal. I am ecstatic that they picked me again. I get to play with people that I played against during the season and that's a lot of fun."

(Talk about playing in the PAC 10 this season)
"It was definitely an experience. The tempo of the game is just ridiculous in college; and, playing in the PAC 10, we have several different types of teams. We have different types of players to guard. You just learn a lot about other teams. I think playing in the PAC 10 really prepared us (for the NCAA Tournament)."

(Talk about the Houston area talent that participated in the WBCA High School All-America Game.)
"Oh! Kelsey Bone (Dulles High School); Brittney Griner (Aldine Nimitz HS). Number 1 and number 2, right?! I'm proud of them. I'm glad that they got to experience the All-Star Game; and, I know that they're going to do well at Baylor (Griner) and South Carolina (Bone)."
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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Huskie Nation

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Once again, Connecticut has shown the nation how big a difference there is between their team and the rest of the nation. Even if Stanford played their best, it still would not have been good enough to beat UConn in the second semifinal game.

Stanford's Jayne Appel did her best (26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists), but the rest of the Cardinal team looked timid for most of the game. Passing up good shots and making bad passes is not gonna get you a win over UConn. Many of Stanford's shots that were falling against Iowa State in the Berkeley Regional final, just would not fall tonight. As expected, the Huskies took a bite out of the Cardinal and never let go.

The Huskies are primed for a 6th National Championship.
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The $64K Question?

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Can Courtney Paris lead Oklahoma to a national championship, or will she have to pay back $64,000 for her OU athletic scholarship as she promised if they did not win?

The first half of semifinal game #1 was all Oklahoma. No matter what Louisville tried, OU had an answer. In reality, UL looked scared while taking bad shots and not trying to run good plays. UL did not score a point until the 14:13 mark (free throw) and didn't make their first basket until the 12:36 mark. Until this moment, UL had missed their first 13 field goal attempts. OU took advantage of this and built a 12 point lead going into the locker room.

But UL made the necessary adjustments in the second half and played like they were the favorites, not backing down to OU. UL took its first lead, 37-35, at the 14:59 mark in the second half and was not going to give it up easily. During the second half, the score was tied 6 times and the lead changed 3 times. Neither team was going to back down, and because of this, you knew the game was going to come down to the last shot.

With 1 second left in the game, OU's Nyeshia Stevenson shoots a trey for the win, and the OU Nation goes silent, as the ball rattles in & out and the buzzer sounds to end the game. Final Score: UL 61, OU 59.

Ms. Courtney Paris, please make check or money order payable to: University of Oklahoma Athletic Department.
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Everything Comes Bigger in Texas

ST. LOUIS, MO -- The 2009 Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America Game took place Saturday afternoon inside Washington University's Fieldhouse and the state of Texas was very well represented among the 20 participants. Five of the 20 players reside in the great state of Texas: Brittney Griner (Nimitz HS, Houston, TX, Baylor University); Cokie Reed (Midway HS, Waco, TX, University of Texas); Kelsey Bone (Dulles HS, Sugar Land, TX, University of South Carolina); Nikki Greene (Diboll HS, Diboll, TX, Penn State University); and Waltia Rolle (Westbury Christian School, Houston, TX, University of North Carolina).

ALL five of them are at least 6'4": Griner (6'8"); Reed (6'4"); Bone (6'5"); Greene (6'4"); and Rolle (6'6") which as Cokie Reed said "Everything comes bigger in Texas".

Griner and Reed played for the Blue Team in the All-America Game and helped the Blue Team defeat the White Team and their three Texas buddies 79 to 77 in a very competitive ball game.

Griner, the WBCA's High School Player of the Year, was named Most Valuable Player for the Blue Team while Skylar Diggins was named MVP for the White Team. Griner finished the game with 20 points (9 for 15 from the field); 9 rebounds; 8 blocked shots; and 3 steals in 31 minutes of action. Diggins finished with 24 points (9 for 21 from the field); 5 assists; and 5 steals.

After the game, I spoke with three of Texas' Tall Five: Griner; Reed; and Bone.

Griner scored 14 of her 20 points and blocked five of her eight shots and had some people at the press tables shaking their heads and "oohing and ahhing" with her talent right now and the fact she almost undoubtedly will get better in the near future.

"I need to improve my ball handling," said Griner. "Getting low (in the post); lifting weights; getting some more muscle gain."

If you have not seen Brittney Griner play basketball, her saying she needs more muscle gain and she wants to lift weights is a scary thought for Baylor's opponents the next four years.

Griner feels "We (Baylor) can go all the way. With the girls that are coming in (for the '09-'10 season) and Danielle (Danielle Wilson, 6'5, center) coming back from her (knee) injury, we're going to be stacked. It's going to be great!"

Cokie Reed described the All-America Game as "fun". "It was the most fun I've had in an All-Star Game. Some of the best girls in the country and to just compete. It was just fun."

Reed added, "Texas does produce a lot of top talent in the country. Texas is just representing."

Reed explained why she chose to attend the University of Texas.

"It was close to home so my family can come see me. I didn't want to go too far; but, I wanted to get out of Waco because I have a little bit of growing up to do. It's about an hour and thirty minutes from my house."

Reed also discussed her thoughts on competing in the Big 12 Conference and facing Brittney Griner for the next four seasons.

"The Big 12 is just a beast. From top to bottom, from the upcoming teams to the teams that are already established, it's just a beast. It's a beast. It's just an honor to play in the Big 12 and play in front of my family and stay close to home. Brittney and I are cool. We're friends. She knows my game. I know her game. It's going to be a battle between us when we do play each other."

Kelsey Bone did not make her college choice until April 1 ("2:45 p.m. Wednesday"). Her mother wanted her to select Texas A&M University; but, Kelsey said "My mom knows I've always talked about helping build a program and being different. I never wanted wanted to walk the path with the footprints already there. I like to lead a couple of people from time to time so that was pretty much it."

Bone admitted she needs to learn to play each game night in and night out.

"I've got to learn how to play night in and night out. In high school, I didn't have to do that. I might play the first quarter this quarter and two quarters the next game and then the whole game the following game. So, I'm not real familiar with night in and night out having the competition because I'm used to just beating everybody by forty -- that's what we did in high school. College is a hard transition; but, it's one that I'm looking forward to and I'm up for the challenge."
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Saturday, April 04, 2009

2009 AP Coach & Player of the Year

ST. LOUIS, MO -- The 2009 AP Coach & Player of the Year Award winners were announced at the Renaissance Grand Ballroom. The winners are:

Player - Maya Moore, University of Connecticut
Coach - Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut

The announcement of Geno was pretty obvious. Geno has UConn in position for another undefeated season and 6th NCAA Championship. This is Geno's second consecutive AP Coach of the Year award and sixth overall. This is also the first time that a coach has won the award consecutively since it's inception in 1995.

The announcement of Maya Moore goes hand in hand with her being named the WBCA Player of the Year (Wade Trophy winner). Apparently, the WBCA committee and AP writers believe Maya is the best player for the 2008-09 season.

In my opinion, Maya is not the best player this season. Maya was the best player last season, when the award was presented to Candace Parker (University of Tennessee). Maya is a great player, but the best player this season is Maya's teammate, Renee Montgomery (she was second in the voting). I believe without Renee's leadership this year, UConn might not be in position for a championship. Maya is one of the reasons, along with Tina Charles, UConn is in the Final Four. But Renee is the key to this year's team.
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From Cy Fair to Final Four in One Year

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Nnemkadi Ogwumike is a tremendous basketball player as well as a tremendous young woman. Last season, Nneka helped her Cy Fair Bobcats when the Texas 5A state high school girls' championship. This season, Nneka is a freshman for the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford has made a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four; and, Nneka is very glad to be part of the experience.

"Definitely, amazing!" said Ogwumike, 6'2", freshman forward. "I'm glad I chose to come Stanford first of all. I love my teammates. I love my coaches. To end my freshman year like this would pretty much be my dream. Right now, it's happening and that's a lot of fun."

Nneka explains why she chose to attend Stanford University and play basketball for head coach Tara VanDerveer.

"Stanford definitely has a really athletic program. A really good basketball program; but, I was also looking ahead to really figure out what I would like to do with my life after basketball. I'm not going to be able basketball for the rest of my life even though I would love to be able to.

"I felt that Stanford would definitely open doors of opportunities; so, it was academics packaged with a wonderful athletic program."

Ogwumike has played in 37 games thus far this season and started 13. She's averaging 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shooting 63.0% from the field; so, it's safe to say her freshman season has gone well.

"I'm fresh into the starting line up -- a few games into it. In the beginning, I felt that I was trying to understand all the plays; get everything down and know what I'm doing. Now, I feel like I'm incorparting my game into how Stanford plays. At this point right now, I just do whatever I can to contribute -- rebounding; finishing inside; whatever it takes is on my agenda.

"It's hit me at how the tempo of the game changed from high school to college. It's definitely a drastic change. If you do what you need to do in high school it really prepares for your college -- a lot of discipline, a lot of studying. Balancing your time is definitely important.

"Overally, I wouldn't say there have been too many huge surprises other than to say how exciting college life is!"

Nneka mentioned her teammates have described to her what the Final Four experience is like.

"Of course. We never want to look too far ahead; but, when the time started rolling around, they were telling me how exciting it is and to understand it's just four teams and if you're up there, you're the cream of the crop and people start getting down to business. They said it's definitely a wonderful experience in your lifetime."

Owgumike also sees similarities between her high school coach, Ann Robique and Coach VanDerveer.

"Yes, in the fact, that we run. (laughing) I have not stopped running since high school. "She doesn't give up. They're both relentless."

Coach Robique and Nneka's family will be in attendance for Sunday's matchup versusn Connecticut; and Ogwumike offered a concise game plan for the Cardinal when they face the Huskies.

"We need to do what we have to do to stop them from doing their favorite things. Play as a team and have fun."
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Lobo Talks Twitter

ST. LOUIS, MO -- I do not "tweet"; and, honestly, I don't much about "tweeting" (is that what it's called?) or Twitter.com; but, Rebecca Lobo "tweets" and is very popular at it.

I spoke with Lobo after today's ESPN media briefing; and, among other things, B told me about one of her new claims to fame - "tweeting" on Twitter.com (www.twitter.com/RebeccaLobo).

HRR: I gotta ask. How did this Twitter thing come about?
Lobo: (laughing) People at ESPN asked me about Twitter. I'd been reading a lot about it on the New York Times. I hadn't been on the Twitter page at all. Tina Thornton from ESPN asked me if I'd be interested in checking it out and trying to do it during games. During the SEC Championship game I tried it. It was kind of like our mock run through. Nobody knew about it. We thought it could really add some things to the broadcast. I had no idea they were going to promo it like they have been during the games; but, it's been kind of a fun thing for me to do.

HRR: I'm a novice at this. Explain to me what Twitter is.
Lobo: I'm not on Facebook; but, I guess there's a thing on Facebook that says "What are you doing now?" That's all that Twitter is. You have 140 characters per post. You just type in what you're doing; and, as many people that want to can read your stuff. Right now, there's 7,000 women's basketball fans following my posts. During the game, I'll just post something that I don't have time to do in a report or might not make in a full report but might be interesting to a college basketball fan; so, I'll put that up there. Sometimes when I'm not at games, I'll put little tidbits of things that I think are funny that have happened along my travels or whatever. If people want to follow, they can. Obviously, they don't have to; but, it's been an interesting experience.
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Staley and Lobo Discuss Comets and Final Four

ST. LOUIS, MO -- Clearly, I'm in the STL for the events (and the games) involving the 2009 NCAA Women's Final Four; however, this morning, I decided to speak to two people with ties to the now disbanded Houston Comets -- Rebecca Lobo and Dawn Staley.

Lobo works for ESPN and Staley is the head coach at South Carolina University. 

Lobo was part of ESPN's media briefing for the 2009 Women's Final Four and Staley attended the 2009 State Farm / WBCA All-America Team and Wade Trophy Player of the Year press conference. 

Both of them were disappointed at the demise of the WNBA's cornerstone franchise.

"I think it's a travesty," Staley said emphatically. "The league has lost one of the premier franchises in the WNBA. Houston is a great city to play. The fans supported the team. I think we're just have fallen onto hard times. The recession has taken away one of the best teams to play for; one of the best arenas to play in; and, hopefully, somehow, we can bounce back. It's a big blow to the WNBA."

"I was very surprised, very surprised," Staley added. "Considering the history, the rich history of the Comets, I was very surprised; but, nowadays, anything can happen."

Lobo gave her two cents as well.

"I was really sad when it happened," Lobo said. "Not only did I play for them for a year; but, when I was with New York (Liberty), the Comets were our foil. It seemed like every year we were in the WNBA Championship against the Comets. Whenever the Comets came to Madison Square Garden, we would sell out Madison Square Garden. Such a franchise, one of the best run franchises for so long, I was very, very disappointed it. They were the the WNBA -- especially those first four years. It was definitely a sad event."

Lobo tied the Comets' demise to the future of the WNBA.

"In this economy, it's tough to look around and say what's going to happen; but, we've got the WNBA Draft coming up (April 9) next week. I've got my schedule of games for ESPN; and, we'll see how it goes. But, I think everybody out there is concerned about the future of sports leagues not just the WNBA. Hopefully, it will weather the storm."

In order to shift gears to more positive news, Lobo and Staley also discussed the Final Four matchups (Louisville vs. Oklahoma and Stanford vs. Connecticut).

"I think the Connecticut - Stanford game is going to be teriffic," Lobo added. "Connecticut hasn't had a lot of trouble all season long; but, Stanford is the last team to beat them and plays a style that can give Connecticut trouble; so, I'm excited about that matchup.

"I think Louisville is going against a team that's bigger, probably stronger and more athletic; but, I think Louisville can give Oklahoma a lot of matchup problems."

Staley added, "I think they're representing the best teams that playing the best at this particular time. I think we'll have two great games tomorrow (April 5); and, then the finals, let the best team win.

"No predictions. I just want good games. I don't want thirty point blowouts. It's talent-filled with great coaches; hopefully, everybody will play their best basketball these next three games."
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2009 State Farm Coaches' All American Team & Wade Trophy Presentation

ST. LOUIS, MO -- The 2009 State Farm Coaches' All-American Team was announced today. The 10-member team is:

Jayne Appel - Stanford University
DeWanna Bonner - Auburn University
Tina Charles - University of Connecticut
Marissa Coleman - University of Maryland
Jantel Lavender - The Ohio State University
Angel McCoughtry - University of Louisville
Renee Montgomery - University of Connecticut
Maya Moore - University of Connecticut
Courtney Paris - University of Oklahoma
Kristi Toliver - University of Maryland

Only the 8th player to ever be named an All-American for all 4 years, Oklahoma's Courtney Paris was given the honor of saying a few words on behalf of this years All-Americans. She thanked the coaches, teammates, families and friends of all the players for helping to make them be the best person, not just player, that they can be.

Along with All-American honors, Connecticut's Maya Moore was also named the Wady Trophy Winner (WBCA National Player of the Year).

Congratulations goes out to all of these winners!

Check out the
WBCA website for more information on these players as well as the 2009 Women's Final Four.
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kelsey Bone Chooses South Carolina

Senior high school sensation Kelsey Bone, Dulles HS (Sugarland, TX), chose to attend the University of South Carolina and play basketball for head coach Dawn Staley.

Bone is considered one of the top high school basketball players in the country.

Bone announced her decision during ESPNU's live coverage of the 2009 McDonald's High School All-Star Game.

Bone chose South Carolina over Texas, Illinois, and Texas A&M.

Honestly, I thought Kelsey would choose to play basketball for the Aggies; but, I wish her the best of luck in the future.
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USBWA Announces 2008-2009 Women's Honors

ST. LOUIS -- Since I'm a member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), I would be foolish to not make note of the announcement of the winners of the 2008 - 2009 USBWA Women's Honors.

Connecticut sophomore Maya Moore is the 2009 USBWA National Player of the Year. Her UConn head coach, Geno Auriemma, is the 2009 USBWA National Coach of the Year. Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen is the 2009 USBWA National Freshman of the Year.

I only voted for one of those three people -- Geno Auriemma, for their respective honor.

I chose Louisville's Angel McCoughtry for National Player of the Year and Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis as National Freshman of the Year.

Oklahoma's Courtney Paris is the first player – man or woman – to be named to a USBWA All-America Team four times.

McCoughtry was named to the 2009 USBWA All-America Team along with Maya Moore; Maryland seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman; Stanford junior center Jayne Appel; Duke senior Chante Black; Auburn senior guard DeWanna Bonner; Ohio State sophomore center Jantel Lavender; UConn senior guard Renee Montgomery; and California senior post Ashley Walker.
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