March 20, 2007

UWGB-UConn: Out of the Doghouse

I'll admit it, I like nothing better than a good upset. Especially over a powerhouse like UConn. But I will also admit relief that tonight's second game didn't stretch into the post-midnight hours, and that I don't have to come up with seven new words for "upset." UConn just walked off the court with a 94-70 win over Green Bay, headed to Fresno looking every bit the top seed.

The Phoenix put up a good fight, better than expected, even, and they look rightfully devastated to have tasted a serious lead over a No. 1 seed in their own house and simply be overwhelmed. Green Bay was really hurt by Nicole Soulis' foul trouble. She was forced to play a little hesitant inside, and she was the best antidote the Phoenix had to Charles inside. Once UConn's shots started falling and Green Bay threw up a few bricks, the crowd at Hartford started to relax into a familiar sense of victory.

Good night from Hartford, y'all. If Geno says anything entertaining, I'll be sure to pass it on.

UWGB-UConn: Charles in Charge

What Tina Charles wants, Tina Charles gets. Especially on a basketball court. What she seems to want tonight is a win over the Phoenix, and she's going to make sure that she owns the paint. Lucky for the 6-4 freshman, she's the kind of player who can do just that. Now only is she leading the Huskies with 20 points, but she's locked up the backdoor that UConn had left swinging in the wind early.

UConn leads by 10, and though Green Bay isn't throwing in the towel, I'm going to go with the oddsmakers on this one. Upset lightning never strikes twice, in one night, in one region. Or does it?

Ouch, Charde Houston puts UConn up 13. Maybe not.

UWGB-UConn: Holy Cow

The Phoenix are up by 2 at halftime on UConn. If you thought Frese was giving a rousing halftime speech last game, I'd hate to be in Geno's line of fire right now. From one angle, Green Bay's success looks as simple as we-make-'em, you-miss-'em, but they also have that underdog hustle and a wicked backdoor cut that has already toppled a couple of top seeds in this tournament. Look out, boys and girls, we've got another upset a-brewin'...

UWGB-UConn: Phoenix Rising

Did I say pesky? I meant potent -- Green Bay has looked UConn's run in the eyes and come back strong -- right back into the lead on a three-pointer from senior guard Natalie Berglin, who got a sweet shooter's roll and put the Phoenix up 33-32 with three minutes left to go before half.

Looks like nobody in Hartford has any plans to let me relax tonight. Green Bay might be outsized and out-talented, but man they're running like this is their Rudy moment and since their shots are falling, UConn will have to step carefully to avoid the "how did this happen!?" shock that crushed Maryland's spirit earlier tonight.

UWGB-UConn: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em

So the Huskies have started to flex their muscles, much to the joy of the now-moderately-crowded audience. You got to hand it to the UConn fans, it's after 10 on a week night and they're here in full force, even if this game will stretch well past 11. Their efforts are being rewarded, with a solid UConn lead.

Still, the Phoenix is staying pesky, climbing within four and hanging tough. After watching the speedfest that was Maryland-Mississippi, however, we look like we're in slo-mo here in Hartford. Give me a second to acclimate and We can have all the stunning details.

Mel Thomas leads the Huskies with 7 points, and 6-2 Nicole Soulis is the game's leading scorer at this point with 10 on the board.

UWGB-UConn: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em

So the Huskies have started to flex their muscles, much to the joy of the now-moderately-crowded audience. You got to hand it to the UConn fans, it's after 10 on a week night and they're here in full force, even if this game will stretch well past 11. Their efforts are being rewarded, with a solid UConn lead.

Still, the Phoenix is staying pesky, climbing within four and hanging tough. After watching the speedfest that was Maryland-Mississippi, however, we look like we're in slo-mo here in Hartford. Give me a second to acclimate and We can have all the stunning details.

Mel Thomas leads the Huskies with 7 points, and 6-2 Nicole Soulis is the game's leading scorer at this point with 10 on the board.

UWGB-UConn: Vernal Equinox

The world has righted itself, if only for the moment, in the shaking and quaking world of the women's tournament. A three-pointer from Mel Thomas just gave UConn its first lead of the game, 13-12, and Tina Charles just extended that lead to 15-12. Green Bay doesn't have a lot of room to play with here, so they'll have to stay right on top of the Huskies if the promise of the opening minutes is to pay off.

UWGB-UConn: Bring it On, UConn

I was so busy reeling from the last upset that I barely got settled before UW-Green Bay started to take a shot at its own. They've come right out to put up two straight three-pointers, and they're now leading the Huskies 10-4 just over two minutes in. I don't know if my little heart (or bracket) can take it!

Ole Miss-Maryland: Let's Hear it From Hartford

I just got chills down my spine, watching Ole Miss hold the ball as the buzzer ran out on their huge 89-78 upset win. Armintie Price fell to her knees right in front of me, closed her eyes, kissed her fingers and pointed them to the sky in thanks, or victory, or both...

Ole Miss just bounced the national champs. And they did it in textbook, uptempo fashion. Everything clicked, everything worked, and man oh man if I was a top seed in the Dayton region, I'd start studying this film good and hard for a way around that Rebel press.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Upset Special

Or not-so-special, if you're Maryland. They made it competitive here at the end, but thanks to picture-perfect free throw shooting from Mississippi and a gigantic hole Maryland dug for themselves, the TErps are down ten with 18 second remaining. "Hoddy Toddy" is raining in from the Ole Miss fans, and I'm trying of ways to say an appropriate sayonara to the national champs. No more.

Marissa Coleman just sobbed her way off the court with her fifth foul and Shay's already bawling on the sidelines. Of all the sad faces on the MAryland bench after this game, Doron's will be the one that hurts most. The senior star can't have any regrets, but it was no way for this all to end.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Doron, Dorout.

Shay Doron just fouled out after Toliver and Coleman misses turned the ball back over the Rebels with 1:26 remaining and she was forced to foul to stop the clock. Armintie Price just sank two free throws, the lead is 10...

Wilder things have happened, but is Maryland out of miracles?

Or will Kristi Toliver get fouled on a drive to the basket and make good on the and-one? Yup! Lead is 7.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Fast and Furious

Marissa Coleman for three! The lead is only 8! Carol Ross just stomped both feet at the same time in indignation at a ref's out of bounds call.

Kristi Toliver, pull up j for 2! lead is 6! Two minutes left!

Now the blood's pumping...

Ole Miss-Maryland: Woman Down

Signs of life from Maryland, though I'm not ready to call it a comeback, yet. THey've cut the lead back down to 13, and Marissa Coleman just got aggressive enough to get tangled up with Easley under the basket. Easley was the only casualty, limping off the court with what looks like a cramp in her calf judging by the ice massage she's getting on the sideline.

Kristi Toliver just hit a couple of long shots, both twos but almost there, and now the lead's only 11. You can see Frese telling her to keep 'em coming. Maryland ball, here we go...

Ole Miss-Maryland: Number Crunching

Every time I look at the stat monitor to my right, Maryland's shooting percentage seems to plummet. First half it hovered around 50%, then dipped into the 40's after halftime, and now is at a cold 38.5%, while Ole Miss is holding steady or beter than its current 52%.

Then again, Tolivet just hit a long-awaited 3. Hoping against hope that this one turns into a game!

Ole Miss-Maryland: Ker-Plunk.

As Tom Kolehmainen of the Meriden Record-Journal seated next to me put it, quite simply: "Well, they certainly didn't come out of halftime with an answer."

Is this the same Maryland team that played so in sync last postseason it was almost as if they were possessed? What on earlh is going on here? Full credit to the job Ole Miss is doing on them, but there's plenty of moments the Terps are shooting themselves right in the foot here.

Conspiracy theorist alert: Milton Kent of the Baltimore Sun reported last night that Toliver had did not deny or offer "no comment" when he asked her if she would consider transferring at the end of the season. Instead, she said "Right now, it's all about this year and focus on the next five games."

Frese's decision to not start Toliver has raised questions, especially at this critical time of year, and has me wondering if that lineup change isn't helping to cut into this team's chemistry -- or at least, as Milton speculates, Toliver's confidence.

Back on the court there's no spark of recovery from the Terps yet, still trailing by 17 and without a hot hand to look to. Yesterday, I would've written this off as a blowout. Today, I keep wondering when Maryland's going to wake up and put up a fight...

Ole Miss-Maryland: The Irony and the Harmony

So every time we go to halftime here in the Hartford region (and maybe in others) we get treated to a highlight reel of the Terps' overtime title win...particularly ironic in light of the fact that the defending national champions are no doubt having their ears chewed off in the locker room right about now.

In the meantime, the halftime special guests are the NCAA Division II men's soccer champions, Dowling College. For those of you who don't know, Dowling is in Shirley, NY, but they must have the widest recruiting base known to Division II man, because as they read off each player's name and hometown, I swore it was the United Nations roll call.

dowlingsoccer.JPG

A sampling of hometowns, courtesy of the Downling College Athletics site:

Continue reading "Ole Miss-Maryland: The Irony and the Harmony" »

Ole Miss-Maryland: Unlucky 13

So I've been struck a bit speechless, not a good look for a live blogger, but I'm trying to figure out how Ole Miss is picking Maryland apart now that they're headed to the locker room leading 47-30.

The Rebels are right up in the Terps' faces, contesting every shot, as unintimidated as a team can be. Maryland center Laura Harper looks downright perturbed inside, and on offense the Rebels are almost (almost) showboating. The pace of the game slowed considerably right before half, though whether it was fatigue or just both teams looking forward to the chance to regroup/celebrate, who knows. What does Carol Ross say to maintain this momentum when you know Maryland's coming back firing with everything in their arsenal? What does Brenda Frese say to get her team to pull it out and start sinking some shots!?

Stay tuned, since we could be looking at a big honking upset if things keep upt his way.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Hoddy Toddy Gosh Almighty...

Mississippi is doing to Maryland what Maryland usually does to teams even like Mississippi -- outrun, outshoot, outplay. Maryland is only getting their offense set once in every third or fourth try down the court, and the turnovers are becoming an eyesore.

Marissa Coleman just turned on the jets to block what looked like an easy Easley layup and went careening into the band section. Then she put back a Toliver miss to break the little Terp scoring drought and bring Marland back within 16 -- but wait, there goes another Easley three. The Terps better find the antidote to the case of the shakes they've got or things are going to be ugly in that locker room at halftime, and we're only 7 minutes away.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Yikes Stripes

Brenda Frese is SCREAMING. At her team, in the huddle, courtesy of an even more furiously called 30-second time out, the Terps' second of the game. All I can see if her blonde hair flipping back and forth wildly between the players heads.

With good reason -- Armintie Price just broke into double-digit scoring less than ten minutes into the game and the Terps are down 16 points at the 11-minute mark. Price is killing the Terps in transition, and she must have two or three steals by now...

Ole Miss-Maryland: Tres-riffic

Look, I'm blinking at the scoreboard -- it's 18-6 Ole Miss, courtesy of a pair of threes from Rebel freshman Alleisha Easley, both right over Kristi Toliver.

Easley made that look easy -- where's that Terp defense?!

Ole Miss-Maryland: Out of their Shells

Ooh, Frese was just forced to take a timeout before the first media time out -- Ole Miss has run it up to 12-6 in a minute, on a couple of heads-up defensive plays and some smooth outside shooping.

I'd give up my courtside seat to see the guard duos from both of these teams have a footrace at halftime. Right now my money's on Price as the speediest of the speedy out there -- here's hoping neither team tires before this becomes the battle it can be.

Ole Miss-Maryland: She's Toliv-here

For all the watching, learning and relaxing that Kristi Toliver is supposedly doing now that Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is starting in her place, it didn't take Frese long to get her into the game -- just two and a half minutes. She even plucked Marissa Coleman off the court immediately after she put Maryland up 4-2 on a full court sprint for a layup, just to put Toliver in. We were tied at 6, but Arimintie Price just dropped a long 2 to put the Rebs ahead. Doesn't look like Ole Miss has any plan to defer to the defending champs.

Ole Miss-Maryland: Let's Get Ready To Rumble

So the crowd might still be sparse by most big-game standards, but the fact is, these two teams know it's go time. When the Maryland band cranks up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song BEFORE the game, it's gotta be a do-or-die matchup.

Expect this one to be speedy, as both teams have left opponents winded all season. Maryland has the tip, in the hands of Sa'de WIley-Gatewood and converted into the first points of the game by Crystal Langhorne. Right now, it's anybody's game.

March 18, 2007

UMBC-UConn: Out of Their Misery

The deed is done. The Huskies have eaten the Retrievers alive, 82-33, and advanced to face UW-Green Bay in the second round Tuesday. Most enthusiastic fans of the day award was actually stolen from the Harvard Crimson by these Retriever fans, who stayed until the bitter, bitter end.

I'll be interested to see what Geno has to say about this one. For now, Goodnight Blogland.

UMBC-UConn: Names To Learn

Although I consider myself fairly learned on the current state of affairs in women's college basketball, I am constantly reminded of how much there is left to learn. Like the names Charese Baldwin, Cassie Kerns and Meghan Gardler. Don't hear those too often in this blog, but they're all three in UConn uniforms on the floor right now. If there is an advantage to garbage time, it's a chance to see or even preview players that don't get a lot of PT otherwise.

Alright, ladies, you're up by 40 points. Make something interesting happen. Even Rebecca Lobo looks bored out of her skull...

Hey Lippman...

Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you...

As long as we're both faced with pulse-less games (Geno's reclining on the bench with his leg kicked up), how about a little round of Crowd Bingo? Can you find the following in what remains of a crowd in East Lansing?

*A fan with a sign using ESPN as an acronym
(mine says "Every Single Play Needs a Huskie"...I don't get it, but it's there.)

*Crazy fan hats
(I got three UConn sombreros in section 100)

*A purple wig
(Mine's on the UMBC band trombone leader.)

Bring it on...
J

UMBC-UConn: Going To The...Huskies

You've gotta give credit to the Retrievers. No one seems to have told them they're outmatched tonight and they are FIGHTING. Case in point: UConn's Brittany Hunter goes for what looks like an easy jump shot and ends up with 5-11 UMBC senior Sharri Rhode blocking the ball back into her face. The Retrievers kept the lead around 10 for the bulk of the first half, even cutting it back to single digits a few times. But here wer are at halftime and the Huskies have pulled ahead 41-20.

You can see press row getting restless, writing leads, and I imagine what looks like the halftime bathroom exodus will end up being a decent-sized group that leave the game entirely. They just came to make good and sure UConn wasn't going to get shocked by these upstart pups, and now that things look under control, they'll leave it to Geno and his women to clean up the last 20 minutes.

I'm still praying for a tournament time miracle to make it competitive. Please please please....

UMBC-UConn: Hartford Hoopla

I gotta be honest -- as much as the crowd here at the Hartford Civic Center has quadrupled, maybe quintupled from this morning's turnout, I can't help thinking I've seen better attendance at UConn home games here mid-season. Then again, those rarely fall at 9:30 on a school night. Still, the crowd is solid and the underdogs are holding their own, both in the stands and on the court.

It's 8-5 in UConn's favor at the first media time out. First impressions? Man, Tina Charles is good. Woah, I wonder if this is going to get rough after a couple of physical tangles under the basket here early on. Wow, does this 16 seed actually think it stands a chance? Their band's playing the Spiderman theme song, and if Peter Parker isn't a successful underdog, I don't know who is.

UMBC-UConn: Battle of the (Big) Dogs

I would like to apologize here before tip-off for the string of dog-related puns I'm about to reel off, but c'mon, it's the Huskies against the Golden Retrievers...what do you expect?

One betting site I looked at has UConn with a 44 point spread. If that's the case, you people have a LOT of astute environmental observations like my mascot reviews and possibly an exclusive interview with the guy wearing about 3,457 UConn buttons. These are the kind of things you just can't get from watching at home...in the meantime, I find myself hoping the old adage about the size of the fight in the dog applies to the Golden Retrievers, to keep this interesting.

(And goodness gracious the UMBC dance team isn't wearing very much clothing. Standard dance team black pants with a gold and black bikini top situation that tells me their student gym facilities must be more than adequate. Yikes!)

umbcdanceteam.JPG

UWGB-New Mexico: Easy Being Green

Green Bay got what it came for, the first "upset" here in Hartford, if the 8-9 game qualifies for true upset status. Green Bay just advanced to face the winner of the upcoming UMBC-UConn came with this 59-52 win.

This is great news for the surprising number of Green Bay fans in the audience, especially the guy who obviously hasn't bothered to change out of his St. Patrick's Day costume (or stop partying, I suspect) and simply painted a green UWGB on his chest among the shamrocks and giant sequined leprechaun hat. I imagine if you're a Green Bay fan, your opportunities to cheer topless are few and far between.

Even so, all this has a certain air of opening band about it. 26 minutes away is the main event of the night if you beleive the crowd here: UConn-UMBC. Stay tuned.

UWGB-New Mexico: Wolf Trap

39 seconds. 8 points. It's been done before, it could be done again, and New Mexico coach Don Flanagan apparently thinks it's worth a shot. He's got his women out for a timeout with Berglin headed to the line for Green Bay and his Lobos trailing 57-49. What kind of play do you draw up in this situation!? The mind reels...

UWGB-New Mexico: Cheese Whiz

New Mexico has brought the press to try and seal up the 10-point lead that Green Bay has built, but Berglin and her teammates are just too fast for the Lobos it seems. You feel like the seedings are just hair off here -- these two teams are fairly evenly matched, but Green Bay is just slightly better. A little bit taller, a little better ballers, and now that Berglin's back they don't have to call her...

Forgive me, this is a lot of basketball in one day. My head is starting to spin with visions of the Horned Frog in a cheesehead. Oy.

UWGB-New Mexico: Berglin's Back...

...and so is Green Bay. Berglin came out of the locker room at halftime and was dribbling confidently with her right arm right out of the gate. She's keyed another lead change -- this one in Green Bay's favor -- as they've got the 37-31 advantage with 15:50 remaining. I like this Berglin. Not only is she quite obviously tough (don't expect me to return from a dangling arm, ever) but she's got a composed confidence that is keeping her team afloat.

UW-Green Bay-New Mexico

Forget what you heard. Just because this isn't the marquee matchipup of the night doesn't mean the stands aren't twice as full as they were for the morning session. Granted, most of them are wearing UConn sweatshirts in anticipation of the 9:30 UConn-UMBC matchup, but hey, they're making noise! Also adding to atmosphere are the cheeseheads adorning the domes of every member of the Green Bay band, including their be-blazered director. That's cool. Also cool from their perspective, no doubt, is the early 10-2 lead that Green Bay has built, forcing New Mexico into their first time out.

Harvard-Maryland: Shay Can Do-no-ron

As the story goes, Shay Doron almost wasn't a Terrapin. She was recruited very heavily by Harvard, and in the words of Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, "her dad loved the thought of Harvard probably more than Shay did." But we know the end to the story, how as a junior she was the "veteran" who led her team to an improbable national title. It's not easy to imagine there are no regrets.

When a reporter asked whether her game-high 24-point performance was a reaction to not going to Harvard, Shay leaned forward and joked, "You’re not going to give me credit, you don’t think I could’ve gotten into Harvard?"

"I don’t regret coming to Maryland obviously," Doron followed. "It’s been a great four years and hopefully we’ll finish it off with a bang."

Harvard-Maryland: Why Kristi Sat

So the mystery of Toliver's first non-start was solved quite simply in the postgame press conference, where Brenda Frese explained that her sophomore point guard is "putting way too much pressure on herself". Calling Toliver a "tremendous team player", Frese admitted that forcing Toliver to watch the first few minutes of the game and allowing Wiley-Gatewood to run the team early would alleviate some of the pressure that Toliver has taken upon herself.

For her part, Toliver didn't seem in the least bit fazed by the decision. There wasn't a hint of bitterness in her voice when she explained that though sitting down early was "different", it was all for the good of the team.

"I'm still the same person, the same player I was before" she said. "I'm just coming in four minutes later."

Harvard-Maryland: Voila, The Fat Lady

And that about wraps it up for this edition of Terrapin domination. Harvard proved a worthy foe, but in the end the speed, size and dare I say turtle power of Maryland overcame the Ivy. Now we get a quick break and hopefully a big meal, since they're beginning to confuse my stomach rumblings with the substitution buzzer, and wait for Wisconsin-Green Bay vs. New Mexico to tip off at 7:12 pm.

Harvard-Maryland: Still Kickin'

WIth the help of tech guru Trevor, wireless disaster has been averted: a momentary lapse in the Internet connection has been remedied. Thanks to Big T, I shall blog on.

What did we miss? A gutsy play from Harvard sophomore guard Emily Tay, who at 5-foot-8 came down court on a breakaway and barrelled right into 6-2 Langhorne, picked up the foul and one. Not a lot else is going right for Harvard, so Tay's play is all-important.

Hilarious: Maryland's Jade Perry just went to the free throw line, and right before her release the Harvard fans behind me started the old elementary school standard: "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi, you ugly, hey hey you ugly!" Toliver and Perry were visibly cracking up after Perry swished the shot, so the Harvarites followed it with a round of "M-A-M-A, we know how you got that way, your mama, hey hey your mama." Perry bricked the free throw, but she took the cheer in good spirits. That's easy when you're up by 20 at the 7-minute mark.

Harvard-Maryland: Harper-ific

Laura Harper is ALL arms and legs, but man, somehow she gets them to work together to make good things happen. She just got fouled on a layup after clattering to the ground and Frese was PUMPED about her aggressiveness. She was also just as pumped that Harper sank the free throw.

This game has turned out about as predicted -- Harvard trails by 24 with 15 minutes remaining and Maryland's got its groove back. Honestly, if we keep on this way and Harvard hits the road, I'll be sad to see the Crimson fans go. They're pretty funny, and so far not too crude at all. Plus, the Harvard band just played Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone", one of the greatest angry-chick sing-along songs since Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill. Even a couple of Maryland clarinetists were singing along.

Harvard-Maryland: On Ice

So your favorite intrepid reporter has been suffering through the first three halves of basketball today while friggin' freezing, mystified as to the temperature until Milton Kent, terribly observant reporter from the Baltimore Sun, explained that this is a hockey building. Hidden under the UConn court is the rink for the Hartford Wolfpack, which also explains the Canadian flag hanging next to the American flag. Make that two new things I've learned today: Every team here is on thin ice and ALWAYS pack a sweater. I'm using my halftime break to run for warm tea.

Harvard-Maryland: Bench Assist

Here's one you don't see from the major-major squads a lot: the Harvard bench just started a cheer that the entire Harvard crowd picked up. De-Fense! De-Fense! Sure it looks somewhat small-time and reminds me of my own high school teams, but it's a part of the game I miss at this level -- all for one and one for all, even where school spirit is concerned.

And yet Harvard trails by 13 at halftime.

Harvard-Maryland: Super Bowl Sunday

So the Terps have turned two straight intercepted passes into two straight field goals, a little icing on the 13-point lead they have running now.

Here comes the Harvard band (in crimson blazers, I might add, looking right natty) playing the Rocky theme. When they bust one out from the Rudy soundtrack, that w'swhen we know we've completed the underdog circuit. Harvard's going to need some surreal shooting or an emotional kick in the pants like they got at the beginning of the game with the first basket to start making headway into the Maryland lead.

Harvard-Maryland: They Make It Rain

Maryland's Marissa Coleman has put up her signature fadeaway J succesfully twice down the court, while Langhorne has decided to show the Crimson who's boss inside. Two and-one plays have already gone her way, and she's leading the Terps with 8 points.

Maryland's so much faster than this Harvard team that if they could just get in step and pick up the pace, I see them running right off with this game, underdog enthusiasm be damned.

Harvard-Maryland: Clawing and Clinging

I expected to be able to tell you that Kristi Toliver's three-pointer at the 13-minute mark broke the game open for the Terrapins, but Harvard isn't going quietly anywhere. They made Crystal Langhorne work for the next field goal, and they're playing tenacious D. If I'm Brenda Frese, I'm about to give my team an earful about boxing out and dominating the boards, because Maryland's strength could easily become its weakness.

The little Ivy team that could just sank a three to make it 20-12 with 9 minutes left in the first half.

Harvard-Maryland: Do Not Fear the Turtle

So in my entire life as a UVA alum, I have never before been glad to see Testudo the Maryland Terrapin, but after the one-frog freak show that TCU's mascot put on earlier today, Testudo looks positively cuddly. I did, however, hope to see some incarnation of Crimson on the other end. No luck.

We're tied at 7...who knows how long that will hold, but Frese has a lineup I haven't seen on the floor: Wiley-Gatewood and Toliver, Aurelie Noirez and Crystal Langhorne, and Shay Doron...and now we're tied at 9!

Harvard-Maryland: Jump Start

Harvard scores first! Harvard scores first! Pandemonium in Hartford!

Oh, wait, Shay Doron just sank a three-pointer...But Harvard's Niki Finelli answers with another field goal! The Crimson have a chance at a six point lead here, thanks to a Maryland turnover. I'm getting pumped...

A THREE from Harvard forwrad Christiana Lackner! The crowd goes wild!

Man, I'm feeling the adrenaline.

Harvard-Maryland: A Tide of Crimson

So in the grand tradition of camera phone pictures, here's my blurry, choppily snapped picture of the Harvard fans behind me. These Ivy League kids know how to party, apparently, because they're painted and outfitted and making all KINDS of noise. Maryland's fans can barely compete...

harvardfans.JPG

And now Harvard's won the opening tip...Coincedence?

Harvard-Maryland: Seeing Red

Here's a little pre-game gossip for you. Maryland guard Kristi Toliver was expected to start this game, but it appears that Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is going to start in her place. Natalie Ciccone, Maryland's SID, assured me that Toliver is going to play (and she's out there warming up as per usual) but said she'd leave the explanation of the change up to Brenda. Could be big news, could just be a hot or cold performance in practice tomorrow, but it will be interesting to see whether Sa'de can get hot early, as she's struggled to do this season.

Hartford: Horns of a Dilemma

Someone turned up the gas under both of these teams, and it's starting to get scrappy out there. Maybe a tinge of desperation coming from the Horned Frogs, down by 19 points. It took almost the entire first half, but Ole Miss is firing on all cylinders, diving after loose bals and making light of the Frogs' inside defense.

Unless Davis can find a phone booth to change into her Superwoman outfit real fast, I don't see TCU pulling this one out.

Hartford: Rebel Yell

It was neck-and-neck there for awhile, but Ole Miss pulled out an eight-point lead at half. The Rebels have started collapsing on TCU's Davis the minute she touches the ball, and they've disrupted her enough that she was held scoreless for almost 10 minutes before halfitme. WIthout her, the Frogs' offense is in pieces, and since Ole Miss is getting their shots to fall, TCU's down 15 and in a bit of trouble.

(Scary cheerleader update: She has added a hawk-like screech to her repetoire of distracting noises. Is this like Texas yodeling? It's quite unnerving.)

Hartford: Hah-vahd in Hartford

A nod to the big boss over at CSTV.com, Dan Kaufman, whose alma mater Harvard faces Maryland next. I'm sitting next to their coaching staff as they scout TCU and Ole Miss. They seem pretty calm an hour and a half before gametime, taking a fairly casual attitude towards their shot charts and sketching out plays on scrap paper. Journalistic integrity naturally precludes me from sharing further details, but maybe Maryland shouldn't underestimate the Ivy League champs.

Hartford: Tee Off

Junior Carla Bartee just gave the Rebs their first lead of the game with a long three-pointer...a one-point lead it is, but hey, it'll work.

Just in case we forget how far from home these two teams are, there's a TCU fan in a ten-gallon hat seated behind me giving the refs "the what-for" on every call. His favorite line seems to be "GET IN THE GAME, Ref!" which confuses me a bit, but hey, at least he's making noise. Now, if only he wasn't the ONLY thing making noise in here besides the dueling pep bands...

Hartford: AHHHHHH!

The TCU Horned Frog mascot has to be the scariest thing I've ever seen!!!

hornedfrogmascot.JPG

THAT is supposed to draw in kids and fans? More like give them nightmares...I wish I was seated on the Ole Miss end of the court. Especially because during Ole Miss free throws, one of the TCU cheerleaders makes this surreal banshee noise from the back of her throat. I'd throw up a brick every time with that racket under the basket. Yikes. Maybe it's helping -- TCU is holding the lead, staying a steady 2-3 points ahead of the Rebs.

Hartford: Pressing Matters

It may be Sunday morning, but Ole Miss came to brawl. They've got a full-court press on the Horned Frogs, trying to claw their way into the lead. You have to worry that it will wear them out, but until their shots start falling they'll have to keep the pressure on.

Ole Miss did seem invigorated out of the first media time out, with a nice round-the-world passing sequence resulting in an Ashley Awkward three. Now if they could only figure out how to contain TCU guard Ashley Davis. At a sl im but strong 6-foot, Davis is killing the Rebels outside and in, and accounts for 11 of TCU's 17 points. With her height, you don't expect that speed or that outside shot, but Ole MIss is going to have to learn quickly to survive.

Hartford: The Few, The Proud...

...the fans. In the press room, a couple of us were joking about the over-under on the attendance for this TCU-Ole Miss game, whether we'd break 1,000 for this Sunday morning game. Looking at the handful of fans scattered around the arena, I'd say the unders have it -- Understandable, snice neither of these teams has any geographical or personal connection to the Northeast. Not that the attendance makes a bit of difference to these women -- they look ready to ball.

Maybe things will warm up for Maryland-Harvard...both of those teams are East Coast, and there's already a hardy Maryland group taking over secontion 117.

Hartford: Inconspicuous

How often can you walk right by Rebecca Lobo and not notice she's there? Her stature, both physically and anywhere within 100 miles of Storrs, CT makes her a bonafide fight-off-the-mob celebrity. But walk by her I did, right past her sitting at the end of the press tables, rehearsing her pregame bit in her best on screen voice. Sitting down and speaking softly, Lobo looks like any of the other tall women here -- you have to wonder how it feels, even years later, to be sitting on the sidelines of a court you used to rule.

(On a seperate note, the NCAA has very strict rules about what beverages are allowed on press row. ALL drinks must be in an NCAA/Dasani paper cup, no cans allowed under ANY circumstances. A very kind event staffer just confiscated my pint-sized Dasani bottle. Talk about total sponsorship!)

Welcome to Hartford

So here we are in the home of the UConn Huskies -- I'm sorry, make that the Hartford Civic Center, the least neutral of the first round NCAA sites this weekend. I've been here several times before to cover UConn home games, and there's certainly still a certain Husky pride about the place, no doubt fueled by UConn's return to a top seed.

Today's first matchup? TCU vs. Ole Miss. I'm stoked to see Rebel senior Armintie Price in person, see whether she can put in the All-American performance we're looking for. As for the rest of my day, it looks like something like this...

Continue reading "Welcome to Hartford" »

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