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Archive for February, 2009

   So I forgot to post my Associated Press vote this week. Maybe last week, too. (Ahem). I got all caught up in the Oscars this past Sunday. Not sure what happened the previous Sunday. Is it still February?

   I’ll put my full vote from Sunday at the bottom of this post, but will mention here that I ranked Tennessee No. 20. This was before the Vols’ 63-61 loss at LSU on Thursday, which ended with the officials needing to go over to the monitor to look at the time left on a so-called jump ball that never even came close to happening. 

  It was the kind of amateurish finish that seemed almost fitting for a game that kept reminding us, throughout, who wasn’t on the floor anymore for these teams. Like, everybody.
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f341100cc27ad220  OK, Texas A&M never killed off its women’s basketball program for eight days like Oklahoma once did. But, let me tell you … the Aggies’ program, not long ago, seemed more or less dead.

   Consider the thesaurus suggestions for this particular meaning of “dead:” uninteresting, unexciting, uninspiring, dull, boring, flat, sleepy, quiet, lackluster, lifeless. 

  Sure, some Aggies fans will wisecrack, “Hey, why are you bringing up Lubbock?”  Just kidding! That might be a Gary Blair joke, see. One he could almost get away with because he is a Texas Tech alum. (Until they would then take his diploma away, that is.)

  Seriously, we list those terms to describe what used to be Texas A&M’s women’s basketball program in the Big 12.

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  Tennessee Oklahoma BasketballIn a recent blog post, I wrote about Billie Jean King … how nervous I was to talk to her in 1999, even though by that point, I’d been interviewing people for 15 years. It was because of the high regard I had for her, of course, and the gratitude for what she’d done for women and athletics in general.

  Because BJK’s message was never just about how knocking down stupid sexist barriers and stereotypes would help women. It was about how it would help men, too. To that end, she’s always credited Riggs for being first the perfect foil and then – when he lost the match – the perfect gentleman.

  He made no excuses, he didn’t try to minimize what she did. He said, “She was much too good. I underestimated her.” And the two would remain friends until his death in 1995.

  I told BJK my memory of her match with Riggs – about discussing it the day after it happened with my fellow third-graders at recess, about how proud I felt of her. And then I said that she’d probably heard stories like this so many times that she was sick of them.

  But she said, no, she didn’t get tired of talking about it. And she said she was glad people kept writing about it, too. Because every time there was a story about it, somebody somewhere might be learning about it for the first time.

  I thought about that Saturday upon seeing the crowd of 12,906 at the Oklahoma-Baylor game in Norman. Many people know that 19 years ago, in March 1990, Oklahoma’s women’s basketball program was dissolved. A little more than a week later, after facing much criticism, the school reinstated the program.

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    200px-worldcollideNot that this is a news flash … but it’s looking even more likely these days that the two titans of women’s hoops, Tennessee and Connecticut, won’t meet for the second year in a row.

  Not unless they’re in the same NCAA Tournament region, that is, and are slated to meet no later than the Sweet 16. At least, for now, that’s how it appears. In fact, even normally optimistic-minded Tennessee fans are talking about the unthinkable: That for the first time in NCAA Tournament history, the Orange Crush might not even make the Sweet 16.

  And you probably don’t even want to know what pessimistic-minded Tennessee fans are thinking. It’s so bleak it makes “Revolutionary Road” look like a breezy comedy.

   Thursday, Tennessee lost its eighth game of the season, falling 66-56 at Kentucky. Afterward, coach Pat Summitt said, “I will tell you, and I will tell them, that in 35 years of coaching this group has probably the lowest energy, game in and game out, of any team that I have coached. I am not really good at coaching effort, and I am very disappointed in just a lack of competitiveness in a number of our players.”

  She wasn’t done.
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bcc5ea1363f88322   There’s somewhat of a ruckus here in Big 12 country because Iowa State’s “super fan” – Wild Bill Yungclas – announced he is “retiring” after this season because of the economy.

  Some background: Wild Bill has been going to Cyclone women’s basketball games for 25 years, long before the program attained any level of success. He was going when there were only a handful of fans at Hilton Coliseum, and so can truly appreciate a scene such as Sunday’s game, when more than 12,000 were on hand for the Cyclones’ game against Texas.

   There have been many media stories done on Wild Bill over the years, but the one on Des Moines television station KCCI on Monday has caught a lot of attention because he said he will finish out this season and then not attend any more games.
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  caniff_milton_scanyonOK, it’s Sunday … or it was when I started writing this post. I was in Ames, Iowa, for the Texas-Iowa State game, a contest that seemed like it was in the Cyclones’ hands … until the end, when it wasn’t. It was a big win for the Longhorns, and the kind of loss that I would think will sit like undigested food for the Cyclones until they attempt to take out their frustrations on Nebraska on Wednesday.

  Texas snatched away a 55-52 victory, and for more on that, you can go to my ESPN.com blog here.

  But for some reason, today was another one of those times when I’ve tried to remember something I’ve been trying to remember for years. Or remember more specifically, that is. Why it popped into my mind again today, I’m not entirely sure. Except that I was in Iowa (a place known for corn stalks, the significance of which I’m about to get to) and it was Sunday (and what I’m trying to remember comes from the Sunday funny pages.)
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 2b5c2296a63ddff21 Sorry to have taken a little break from the blog … but now I want to tell you one of those heart-warming, feel-good, why-sports-matters, you-go-girl, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar, do-I-have-an-amen-from-the-sisterhood, and-brother-you’re-invited-too, long-and-rambling kind of stories.

   At the NCAA bat cave in Indianapolis last week, they had the mock-bracket exercise. I went last year, and quickly suspected they might be slipping me nice pills in an attempt to thwart my annual stick-it-to-the-committee column. And it worked! 

  I didn’t rip the committee last season, and I know it was because of something nefarious that the NCAA  pulled off … like, um … putting together a good bracket I had little argument with.
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