From the West Coast Conference: SAN BRUNO, Calif. – (March 3, 2014 – www.GoZags.com) The West Coast Conference announced its annual basketball awards Monday afternoon and Gonzaga University women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves was tabbed the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year, senior Haiden Palmer and junior Sunny Greinacher were…More
Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves’ Twitter account blew up with congratulatory re-tweets for his program winning its 10th consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season title.The No. 22 Zags clinched the honor outright by defeating Saint Mary’s, 75-65, on Thursday at McCarthey Athletic Center. Senior G Haiden Palmer scored 12 of her game-high 19…More
No. 23 Gonzaga (8-1) returned to Spokane early Wednesday morning, so a groggy coach Kelly Graves hadn’t turned his full attention to playing at No. 6 Stanford (7-1) on Saturday. The series between the top programs out West will air at 1 pm (PT) on Pac-12 Networks.
Graves mentioned this morning that two tapes were waiting for him in his home office to view. It’s the beginning of the week’s prep for the Zags’ toughest nonconference game, yet. GU hasn’t defeated Stanford since the annual series began in 2010.
“One of these days we’re going to get them,” Graves quipped. “We’re not going to change too much with the way we play. We’re going to change defenses as often as we can. We’ve done a nice job of pressuring people.
“Obviously (Stanford All-American) Chiney Ogwumike is going attract attention. I haven’t watched enough to see what they’re doing to get her to spots where she’s kicking everyone’s butt. Their point guard, Amber Orrange, is going to be better than the two point guards we played this past week. But we’re really good at guarding in the backcourt. Jazmine Redmond is terrific and so is Hadien (Palmer), so we matchup pretty well there.”
The Zags’ final game prep was a pair of wins on the road against quality Big Ten programs Ohio State (59-58) and Wisconsin (70-55). GU saw big leads dwindle late but was able to secure the win. The Zags also received solid play from its bench. Redshirt sophomore F Shaniqua Nilles nailed a buzzer-beater against OSU on Sunday. GU’s bench outscored UW’s 18-7 on Tuesday, junior G Danielle Walter scoring a season-high 10 points in the win at Wisconsin — eight in the final six minutes.More
A full slate of basketball tips Friday with 123 games on the NCAA docket. Some matchups have already concluded, the ESPN networks debuting its broadcast season lineup of games at 2pm (PT) with UNC-Greensboro at Florida State on ESPN3.com. Seminoles coach Sue Semaru (Shorecrest HS) is entering her 17th season and only has three returning players on her roster.
Locally, No. 25 Gonzaga’s 6pm tip against Idaho at the McCarthey Athletic Center is the headliner. It’s the opener of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and will be aired online. The Vandals, led by senior F Alyssa Charlston (Eastlake HS), finished last season at 17-16, winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Gonzaga’s preseason ranking is a first in program history. The Zags are eager to see how a veteran lineup with a talented transfer in F Lindsay Sherbert (Cal) helps the team rebound from a disappointing ending to the 2012-13 season. Gonzaga couldn’t get a signature win and lost at home in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to Iowa State.
“Our strengths are going to be our defense and our speed this year,” said senior G Jazmine Redmon, who won the West Coast Conference defensive player of the year award.More
The Associated Press poll was released Friday and Gonzaga is ranked 25th. The Zags return 12 players, including four starters, from its squad that finished 27-6 overall, 15-1 in the West Coast Conference last season. It won its ninth-straight WCC title and made its fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Zags are predicted to win the WCC, again, this season.
I had the Zags ranked 25th, too, but will admit I don’t even give much weight to the rankings. There are already some key injuries and untested returns that could make a huge difference in how the season begins for some of the ranked teams. But below is the way I’m starting my season outlook and you can keep track of all 40 media members’ votes throughout the season.
In our state, preseason predictions are promising. The NCAA tournament sites were announced earlier and Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena was selected as one of the 16 cities for open-round play. And it looks like one of the state’s five Division I programs will be seeded at UW’s host site. Along with Gonzaga’s conference prediction, Eastern Washington is predicted to win the Big Sky and Seattle U is projected to repeat its regular-season title in the Western Athletic Conference. Washington was pegged fourth in the Pac-12 while Washington State is motivated by being snubbed, again, and picked to finish ninth in the conference.More
Seattle’s expecting 90-degree weather on Wednesday, but that didn’t stop leaves from falling from trees to signal fall and the start of the NCAA basketball season. Washington’s D-I schools are gearing up for some highly anticipated seasons, Tuesday being the Pac-12′s official first look at who’s playing who. (Yeah, some PR blip caused an early posting of UW’s sked. Considering the talent Montlake is expecting this season, you can understand why it jumped the gun)
The Pac-12′s 266-game schedule tips Nov. 8. The conference will make a league-record over 100 television appearances during the regular season, including 101 telecasts on the Pac-12 Networks and five on the ESPN networks as part of the conference’s television package. Among those 106 appearances, all nine games of the Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena in Seattle will be televised, with nine appearing on the Pac-12 Networks and the championship game on ESPN on March 9.
ESPN2 will also televise the USC at Stanford contest on Jan. 27, 2014 for the Pac-12′s first-ever “Big Monday” appearance. Stanford will travel to California on February 2 for an ESPN2-televised game, while Washington hosts the Cardinal on ESPNU on Feb. 9.
Stanford’s trip to UConn on Nov. 11 is part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. The game from Storrs will air on ESPN2. USA Basketball recently announced UConn coach Geno Auriemma would return to coach the national team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Cal, which won its first share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship last season, will be on ESPN2 on Dec. 22 taking on defending NCAA Champion Connecticut in the Maggie Dixon Classic.More
I can’t believe Zags coach Kelly Graves isn’t a fan of “Man vs Food,” but he’s stuck with the English program as the USA U19 team plays in the FIBA U19 World Championships this month in Panevezys, Lithuania. Graves is serving as an assistant coach, the team advancing to the second round as the top seed and facing Netherlands (1-2) on Monday at 10:15am PT.
Incoming freshmen Emma Wolfram (Gonzaga) and Kelsey Plum (Washington) are participating in the tournament, Wolfram for her native Canada. Wolfram’s team faces the Americans on Tuesday at 10:15am PT. FIBA is providing coverage of the event.
Graves has been blogging from the tournament. He gives details of his living quarters and TV viewing in his third installment. Perhaps the programing gets better for the known insomniac, maybe even getting a chance to see Sunday’s premier of “Celebrity Wife Swap,” featuring WNBA legend Lisa Leslie. Then, again, Graves’ probably too busy to have ever heard of that show before, either.
Here’s Grave’s’ latest post:
On The Road With Coach Graves – USA Basketball Blog 3 (July 21, 2013)
I’ve been in Lithuania now for about six days and have really come to like this place. The people are nice, and it is beautiful, even though it’s a flat country. Driving the two hours from the capital Vilnius to where we are playing now, Panevezys, I thought I was driving through Iowa or something with all the beautiful farmland. It has rained pretty much every day we’ve been here though (but we’re not soccer and it’s always dry in the gym so who cares, right?). I was worried coming in about the food but so far so good and they feed us a lot—going to have to get back on the food wagon again when I get home. The players took some time warming up to the food, but just like with your kids at home–they’ll eat it if they’re hungry enough. Me, I’m always hungry! The hotel is interesting. I have three beds in my room, I’m going to call them 1/2 twin size–literally, if I put all three together it would be a queen, but heck, I’m sleeping great. The TV in the room is a 12″, bolted to the ceiling in the far corner. I have to squint to see anything, but again, it doesn’t matter much because there’s only one station that’s in English and as far as I can tell, it shows only a combination of PBS type documentaries and B-list cable channel shows that I’ve never seen. But they must love “Man vs. Food” because that’s on twice a night at midnight. I’ve never heard of it and have a strange feeling that I will never watch it again after I get home. Thank goodness for iTunes–that and game film have saved me.
Storm PG Sue Bird underwent left knee surgery Thursday to remove a cyst. The procedure was a success, according to the team. Bird, 32, stated earlier she’d be on crutches for about six weeks as she begins rehabilitation in Connecticut. When she’s able to travel, she’ll return to Seattle to complete rehab and attend Storm games.
“I feel fine and am at home resting,” Bird said in a released statement. “Looking forward to being in Seattle with my teammates!”
Despite missing the 2013 season due to injury, Bird does count against the Storm’s maximum 11-player roster for the regular season and her guaranteed $107,500 salary counts against the cap. Veterans Tanisha Wright, Camille Little, Tina Thompson and second-year wings Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark are the other players returning from the 2012 squad that finished 16-18, losing in the opening round of the playoffs to Minnesota.
Storm coach and GM Brian Agler signed PG Temeka Johnson to fill Bird’s starting position. Free agents in veteran G Noelle Quinn and post Nakia Sanford were also signed to possibly start. The moves technically leave two roster spots open, one likely to go to No. 6 overall draft pick Tianna Hawkins (Maryland). Agler has seven free agents in camp who he’s also evaluating.
Seattle will open exhibition play Sunday against Los Angeles at Long Beach State’s Pyramid. The season opener is May 26 at the Sparks’ Staples Center. The regular-season roster is due May 23.More
UPDATE: The Zags cliched a fifth consecutive NCAA tournament bid. Read all about the win here.
Top seeded Gonzaga (26-5) faces No. 2 seed San Diego (21-8) in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game in Las Vegas on Monday. The game will air at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Zags are vying for a fifth consecutive NCAA tournament berth. The team was awarded an at-large bid last year, losing the WCC tourney title to BYU.
Gonzaga could play USD without PG Taelor Karr, the WCC Player of the Year. She fell hard on her back during Saturday’s tournament semifinal win over BYU. She took it easy at practice Sunday and is “really questionable” for the game, according to GU coach Kelly Graves.
“She’s a tough kid,” Graves told reporters of Karr. She hasn’t missed a start this season and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.7 points on 43.2 percent shooting.
“I know she’ll do the best she can to try to play,” Graves continued. “But the reality is she’s not in good shape right now.”
FINAL PAC-12 ATTENDANCE NUMBERS
The four-day total attendance for the inaugural Pac-12 conference tournament at KeyArena was announced at 26,465 spectators. There were 3,927 for the championship game alone on Sunday. The figure averages to 2,405 for the 11 games, which is still better than numbers reported in Los Angeles in 2012.
Seattle’s total is the event’s second-highest mark since the conference tournament’s debut in 2002 when it totaled 27,415 at McArthur Court in Eugene, Ore.More
Seattle U (15-9, 12-3 Western Athletic Conference) has three games remaining to conclude its regular-season. SU holds a half-game lead against Utah State (14-11, 11-3) for the regular-season conference title and top-seed in the upcoming WAC tournament in Las Vegas from March 12-16.
The Redhawks host Texas State (9-16, 3-11) on Thursday and Texas-San Antonio (14-11, 8-6) on Saturday. The three-game home stand at Connolly Center concludes with a rematch against Idaho (12-14, 9-6) on March 9. If SU finishes strong and wins the conference tournament, they are pegged as a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament, playing nationally ranked No. 4 Stanford.
Seattle U is rejuvenated. It had a week between games, completing a two-game sweep on the road Valentine’s Day weekend. The Redhawks are on a four-game win streak overall.
SU coach Joan Bonvicini used the time to give the players some rest and perfect game plans.
“I think it was good rest and we had good practiced today (Monday),” Bonvicini said. “Our team is focused and it’s just about staying fresh. Everyone picks up the intensity, takes it up another notch at this point in the season. But we’re in position. We control our own destiny.”More