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Archive for the ‘Jumbo Dozen’ Category

   This won’t be a super-long post, just something to think about:

    The NCAA this week released its data on women’s basketball attendance figures, showing that a record 11,160,293 fans attended games this past season. This was thanks to increases at the Division II and Division III levels.

   The Division I total was marginally less than the previous year – down a mere 29 – but still had the second-best total ever: 8,042,040. For the 10th season in a row, the Big 12 led all conferences, with total attendance of 1,973,069 for an average of 5,312.
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   750a566df22bc7caOf course, the famous, oft-covered song – written by Bobby Troup in 1946 – is not about Interstate 35. (Which doesn’t rhyme with “kicks.”) We’ll get to I-35 in a little while. But first, a not-so-quick detour about “Route 66,” the old Chicago-to-Los Angeles road through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

 Commissioned in 1926, it was officially considered “replaced” by the Interstate Highway System (primarily 55, 44 and 40) in 1985. Even so, Route 66 remains the most romanticized roadway in the United States. If you are over 40 and grew up in the Midwest, odds are pretty good you remember a drive (or two) through Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Flagstaff, Barstow, etc., when all or some of it was still Route 66.

  My family had made the St. Louis-LA round trip at least five times before I was in high school, and it made me reflect onimages-2 the childhood in California that I didn’t end up having _ and the one in Missouri that I did. Born in Los Angeles, I moved to the Show-Me State at age 4 when my dad (originally from the St. Louis area) got a job back there.

  Going on the drive from St. Louis to LA was, for me, akin to being Dorothy on the yellow brick road, with the Pacific Ocean serving as Emerald City. There was no “Wicked Witch”, though, because absolutely nothing seemed bad about California. I always was seriously over-excited by arriving in Needles, even though that’s still hours of desert away from the beach. I always was not as very excited about the drive back to Missouri.
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  5f07b5de5f1e4266     One of the ongoing issues in the Big 12 is how the North schools can keep up with the South. In general, the South schools have bigger athletic-department budgets and they are easier to recruit to for most sports because of weather and population base. 

 Among the North schools that for the longest time didn’t seem like it was really going to be able to compete very well in the Big 12 was Missouri. Not that this was a big surprise, since the school was too often just treading water in the Big Eight from the early 1980s until the Big 12 began in 1996. 

  But in recent years, things have changed for Missouri. The latest success – the softball team advancing Sunday to the upcoming Women’s College World Series _ just adds to what some Tiger fans are calling the best year in the school’s history. And to really appreciate that, let’s go back about a quarter century.
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   a_jackson_ilWe’ll have that look at the Pac-10 coaches soon, but the Lauren Jackson decision bumps that post for the moment.

  LJ announced she is returning to Seattle, rather than moving to Phoenix. Now that things are official, the Storm can think about at least the potential of a championship team instead of, “Oh, Lord, what are we gonna do?”

    Which is not to say LJ is the only good player in Seattle, of course. Rather, it’s to say she remains irreplaceable. Jackson is not just one of the great players in the league right now. She’s on that list of the greatest to have played women’s hoops.

That’s how I view it, but I’m curious what fans think. When you’re determining “greatest” in terms of women’s basketball, there are some real challenges that aren’t there as much with other sports, particularly men’s sports. Starting with the fact that so much of the history of women’s basketball is unseen by so many people.
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    images2Obviously, the big, big, big news in the WNBA is the question of where Lauren Jackson will go: Seattle or Phoenix? But as we watch and wait for that drama to play out, something else with the Mercury merits mention from me. 

  Phoenix signed guard Laurie Koehn to a training-camp contract. With 13 teams and 11-player rosters, of course, securing a job in the WNBA is hard enough, let alone when you are a “specialty” player such as the 3-point wizard Koehn. So it’s going to be tough for her to grab a spot alongside her former Kansas State teammate and best friend, Nicole Ohlde.

  They have played together overseas. But the news of them being in the same WNBA camp – Ohlde was traded from Minnesota in January _ made me try to remember what stood out as the best combined game I saw the two of them play at K-State. And what came to mind right away was one particular clobbering of Missouri.
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06e73bb2c9ad1382   Kansas came into the Big 12 tournament with hopes that it could somehow win a couple of games (which would mean beating top-seeded Oklahoma) and earn at at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. That didn’t occur … and it’s the best thing that could have happened to the Jayhawks.

  Wednesday night, they drew 8,360 fans to Allen Fieldhouse for the semifinal of the WNIT, in which KU beat Illinois State 75-72. Danielle McCray continued a brilliant postseason with 31 points; she is averaging 30.8 and 9.0 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ four WNIT games.
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  454d6eb6d552c5561Got through the first day of Twittering and it was not so different than live-blogging at the Big 12 tournament, except for the handy word limit that kept me from making each post,er, Tweet, too long. Of course there’s nothing to limit your amount of Tweets, so … the long-winded stay long-winded.

 Also, while I generally think a person should be allowed to consume one cookie per game watched each day, that is not such a good idea when you see 16 games.

 As for summing up the first day of the NCAA tournament, I don’t think anyone was too surprised by anything.

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