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Archive for January, 2010

Low times in Lubbock

The first time I went to a women’s basketball game at Texas Tech, I took a cab from the hotel. The cabbie was listening to the pregame show on the radio and, of course, knew exactly when tipoff was. Didn’t everybody in Lubbock know that?

For a long, long time, opposing teams felt about visiting Texas Tech the way you might feel about visiting a faulty nuclear power plant.

“Um, really? We have to go in there? We HAVE to? Uggggghhhh.”

Because playing at Texas Tech was brutal for opponents. The crowd – at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum and then United Spirit Arena – was huge and loud and energetic. The fans created one of the best atmospheres in the country for women’s basketball. They were an enormous part of the reason that recruits wanted to come to Texas Tech.

There was a feeling for foes when they walked in that they weren’t just playing Texas Tech’s basketball team. They were facing Texas Tech Nation – several thousand red-and-black clad fans who would whoop and holler and shoot their imaginary “guns” and, typically, wear down or take the heart right out of the visitors.

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Didn’t you see this coming? Georgia defeats Tennessee on Thursday, which is always a big deal but … if you’ve followed the SEC even for a little while, you sensed trouble for the Dogs coming up. They had Mississippi up next, on Sunday, with the Rebs having won four in four and seven of their last eight.

So what happened? Ole Miss edged Georgia 66-65, and instead of consolidating the win over Tennessee, Georgia now has to go on the road against Mississippi State and Auburn coming off a disappointing loss.

This is life in the SEC, though. And even if people see the league is “down” because it doesn’t have some of the star-studded Final Four contenders of past years, it’s still chock-full of athletes and difficult matchups/trips.
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So you may have seen that I wrote about Nebraska on ESPN.com. The headline for the story says, “Huskers are nation’s hottest team.”

´╗┐ I don’t write headlines. Or cutlines (aka captions for pictures). Or any display type. That’s done by editors at ESPN.com.┬áHeadlines generally are short and quick, and editors want them to have impact.

If you define the word “hot” as in what’s”exciting” and “happening” right at the moment, the Huskers are very hot because they’re a different face getting attention in the sport. I think that’s why that headline was used. But if people are taking this headline as meaning Nebraska is “hotter” than UConn in terms of how well they are playing, that’s absurd.
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Series of semi-rambling thoughts after a trip up and down part of the East Coast …

In Connecticut, the media that covers UConn’s women admits they are “jaded.” That’s their word, not mine. They watch the Huskies all the time. And now for the second consecutive season, they are witnessing one blowout after another. The two latest, of course, being Saturday’s 70-46 demolishing of Notre Dame followed by Monday’s 81-48 clubbing of Duke.

Thus, understandably, they tend to think all the rest of women’s basketball is once again just not very good. And I have admit, I feel lucky I’m not them.

Because I’m not jaded about the rest of the sport, nor am I tired of watching how good UConn is. That’s partly because I don’t watch the Huskies all the time. I didn’t sit through the dissection of Seton Hall or the demolition of Iona or the pounding of North Carolina the way they did.
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Heading South

So … the UConn-Notre Dame was not what we were looking for. I’ll have more thoughts on that later. But in the meantime, it’s time to head to points south. Starting with Newark, Del., for a matchup between two Colonial Athletic Association stars: Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean.

After that, we’ll continue south until we get to North Carolina, where on Monday, Duke hopes it has better luck with UConn than North Carolina did.

By the way, I think it’s OK now to wear the green sweater I packed.

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Heading East

That thing writers do where they suggest that they’re jinxing teams … how silly that is, right? How self-aggrandizing, isn’t it? I mean, it’s just plain dumb. Really ridiculous.

That said … since I wrote about Kansas starting a new decade hoping for better results than in the last one, the Jayhawks have lost three games – one in horrid fashion to rival Kansas State – and also have lost their starting point guard for the rest of the season to an ACL injury. So …

Not more writing about Kansas for a while.

Instead, I am heading out East where, if all my travel plans work out – i.e. I don’t get lost – I should see a few interesting games over the next few days. Starting with Maryland-Boston College tonight. And then we’ll see how the luck of the Irish goes against UConn.

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We’re closing in on the 72-hour mark in my postmortem of Kansas State’s 59-35 victory over Kansas on Saturday, and maybe I’m finally ready to stop thinking about it since the Jayhawks are soon to tip off their next game.

My last post was about Tennessee’s perfect series record against Mississippi State – which remained perfect in a blowout Sunday _ and how I would next write about how that reminded me of some random other “weird” things I’ve seen or noticed over many years of following women’s basketball.
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