Category Archives: Big East women’s basketball

The Truth Hurts – But Only If You Don’t Tell It (UPDATED)

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, American Athletic Conference, Asjha Jones, Big East women's basketball, Cheryl Reeve, Connecticut Sun, CPTV, Doug Bruno, Geno Auriemma, jen rizzotti, Mike Thibault, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

I’ve been thinking about doing a semi-regular blog like this for years, something that combines information with gossip about the world of women’s basketball.
The point is, despite what you might see and hear, those who play the game, coach the game, administrate the game, broadcast and telecast the game and officiate the game are human, although I have my doubts about Doris Burke and Holly Rowe because neither of them seem to sleep during the season.
This means many of them are just as capable of falling prey to the same mindless games as the rest of humanity, fans and sportswriters included.

What you see or hear sometimes really isn’t always what is true or right. It’s just politically correct.
So look, I figure when my brain gets over-loaded with some of these things, I’ll just unload them on everyone who reads me:

So get ready. Here we go:

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Big East (Remember Those Days) Confirms Ackerman Hire

by Categorized: Big East women's basketball, Val Ackerman Date:

The Big East has announced the appointment of Val Ackerman to serve as the first Commissioner of the newly reconstituted, 10-team Big East Conference. The Big East, which will be headquartered in New York City, will officially commence operations on July 1, 2013.

Ackerman began her sports management career in 1988 at the National Basketball Association, where she served as staff attorney, special assistant to Commissioner David Stern and Vice President of Business Affairs, prior to leading the WNBA.

 She has most recently served as a consultant to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, for which she completed a comprehensive analysis on the state of women’s college basketball.






Val Ackerman Named Commissioner Of “New” Big East

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, USA Basketball, Val Ackerman Date:

Val Ackerman, the founding President of the WNBA and former boss of USA Basketball’s women’s programs, will apparently be named the commissioner of the newly configured Big East Conference, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Ackerman, 53, was chosen by the presidents of the conference’s 10 universities. Other female conference commissioners include Bernadette McGlade of the Atlantic 10 and Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League.

   The reconfigured Big East is set to begin business in six days, comprised largely of Catholic colleges and universities from the old Big East.

 The league, which retained the rights to the Big East name, includes the so-called Catholic 7, whose presidents voted to leave because they said football-related revenue was becoming too important. The Big East started in 1979 with a focus on basketball. Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette and DePaul will be joined by Butler, Creighton and Xavier.

 Ackerman ran the WNBA from 1996 to 2005. She was a staff attorney for the NBA and served as the first female president of USA Basketball until 2008.

 Ackerman just authored a comprehensive look at the problems facing women’s basketball.





Starting Tuesday, It’s Officially Game On For Mohegan Sun And The American

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, Danielle Donehew, Jose Fernandez, Mitchell Etess, Mohegan Sun Arena, UConn women's basketball, XL Center Date:

On Tuesday morning, Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino, convenes his first staff meeting to discuss the promotion and execution of the newest sporting event on his campus.

    The American Athletic Conference’s inaugural postseason women’s basketball tournament will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in March 2014.

    For years, Etess had tried to lure the event from Hartford’s XL Center, the host venue since 2004. Not until last year’s breakup of the Big East Conference resulted in the birth of The American’s new conference dynamic was the casino able to prevail for 2014 and likely 2015, although the conference holds the option for the second year.

  South Florida women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez, the president of the Big East’s coaches association for the last two years, is looking forward to it.

“It [moving] has been something the coaches have wanted for a long time,” Fernandez said. “For the last four years we have asked the athletic directors to consider the Mohegan Sun.

“Look, Hartford treated the Big East very, very well over the last nine years. But we thought it was in our best interest as a league [to move]. There were multiple places we could have considered, but it would have been very difficult to ignore that Connecticut possesses an incredible amount of women’s basketball fans.

 “Mohegan was the best option for us now. It’s going to be great. It’s the home of a WNBA team [the Connecticut Sun]. It’s a destination that fans want to visit and enjoy. It was a logical move.”

   The moving delay brought about by the stern objections of many of the presidents representing the old Big East, the majority of them Catholic institutions who felt the casino setting was unsavory.

 “From a conference perspective, the idea is to represent the goals and aspirations of the membership as a whole,” said Danielle Donehew, the American’s associate commissioner for women’s basketball, who served in the same position for the former Big East.

  “The discussion was an important one. The event is one of the major assets we manage for the membership. Discussion about [where to host] needs to happen every few years to make sure membership is happy with the way things are going and offer the chance to continue or change things.

“Our past group was not comfortable with considering a casino site, but the new members at the table know that other national conferences are already hosting at casino sites. It’s a different time now and our members have now decided it was a decision [to move to Mohegan] they were comfortable making.”

   The American coaches and athletic directors feel the Mohegan Sun, with its wealth of on-site housing and entertainment options, will give more fans incentive to travel.

   Conference demographic studies show few out-of-state fans, outside of close family, traditionally traveled to Hartford despite aggressive marketing initiatives.

  “We also provide other ancillary benefits that help make all the events we have here successful; free parking, easy access to restaurants and so forth,” Etess said. “I would think The American is thinking, ‘We can enhance our revenue by selling more tickets and reduce our overhead because it’s cheaper to operate here [than in Hartford].”

  But the decision also came down to money – big money. According to sources, the old Big East wasn’t making enough of it in Hartford.

“We have always felt, even from the previous time when we weren’t accepted by the Big East, that it was unlikely the XL Center could have provided a better financial package than us,” Etess said.

 Etess would not say what specific financial incentives were offered to The American. But its arena’s overhead is relatively small; its operating company owns the arena and employs all the security and staff that cares and protects it.  The XL Center relies on union employees and comparatively expensive city police and fire protection.

  The Mohegan Sun also does not charge for patron parking. Sites around Hartford were charging up to $15 a day, almost matching the package ticket price ($99) the Big East was charging for the entire five-day tournament.

  The casino can also assist The American promote with its multi-million advertising and marketing initiatives.

  “I think the teams [in the American] are going to find fans interested in coming here,” Etess said. “We don’t make bad [financial] decisions for us and it [the casino’s deal] was appealing to them. I would call it “competitive.”

 “We don’t look at this as we would a convention. We look at this as a major event.”

   The effort of the XL Center to retain the tournament was somewhat hampered by the timing of the shift in management to Global Spectrum, which was awarded control of the building and Rentschler Field in February. The company is still in the process of setting up shop.

   “As a result, it was difficult for us to try to project what our expenses might be, or to even to present an accurate proposal for consideration,” said Chris Lawrence, who will manage XL Center for Global. “We put an aggressive bid together and The American, sensing they were in a little bit of a transition period as well, made the decision to try something new and see how it works out.

 “When the contract comes around again we’ll certainly be as aggressive as we possibly can to bring the women and the men. We couldn’t worry about that. Our focus was entirely on what Hartford had to offer and we feel it has a lot to offer.”

  Lawrence also wouldn’t specify what the XL Center was charging or would charge the conference to hold the event. But public records about what UConn pays to operate at the XL Center and Rentlschler provide a window to the bottom line.

  For men’s and women’s basketball games last season, UConn paid AEG Management $48,000 per event, but a sliding scale was in place for that would have increased the rental to $55,000 had UConn cut back its schedule of Hartford games. For football, the cost was $170,000 per game.

  “What’s been misconstrued is there is a tremendous economic benefit to having the tournament [at Mohegan] that just doesn’t benefit us,” Etess said. “The prosperity and money the tournament brought to Hartford will bring the same to businesses that surround us.

  “Not everyone will stay here [at the Mohegan Sun hotel]. We don’t have enough rooms. And not everyone wants to stay here. Hotels and restaurants in this county will be doing big business because of the tournament.

 “When I hear the loss of the tournament is costing Hartford something like $2 million, I understand that. But it’s not revenue that is leaving the state. It’s far better the tournament is here than in Memphis or elsewhere.”











Inside The Margins Of Val Ackerman’s “White Paper”

by Categorized: 2014 Women's Final Four, American Athletic Conference, Anucha Browne, Big East women's basketball, ESPN2, Geno Auriemma, Jeff Walz, Jose Fernandez, UConn women's basketball, Val Ackerman, WBCA Date:

   Under the NCAA umbrella for 32 years, women’s college basketball is barely half the age of their men, who just celebrated its 75th anniversary as championship partners with the governing body of collegiate athletics.

    The sport has sought a singular vision, a steadying voice accenting its strength, diminishing its weakness, bolstering what languishes.

  So far, unification efforts have proven uneven. They’ve led to brief ascents dashed by long rides on a straight path where slight gains are wiped out by slim losses.

  Like its players, the sport is in need a team game, as opposed to one alternately dominated by many individual points of view.

  Last week, the direction may have finally changed.

  Val Ackerman, the WNBA’s founding president and former head of USA Women’s Basketball, now rumored to be the first commissioner of the reconstructed Big East conference, released her “White Paper.”

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Val Ackerman’s Term Paper On How To Grow Women’s Basketball

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, NCAA, SEC, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, Val Ackerman, WNBA Date:

If you love women’s basketball – and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t – I would highly suggest to click on the highlighted line and read the very interesting conclusions of former WNBA President Val Ackerman about how to kick start a sport grown stale.

Many of Val’s suggestions should spur debate, particular her idea of making the Final Four a Friday-Sunday thing and consolidating the four regional finals in super regional finals.

We all know something needs to change. And its refreshing to read that someone so involved believes so, too


Mohegan Sun Arena And American Athletic Conference Set For Deal

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, Connecticut Sun, WNBA Date:

Sources tell the Courant this morning that the American Athletic Conference is expected to announce today that it has reached an agreement with the Mohegan Sun Arena to play its inaugural postseason women’s basketball tournament at the casino site in March 2014.

The XL Center in Hartford had hosted the Big East’s women’s basketball tournament each year since 2004. But the breakup of the Big East, and reconfiguration of the remaining conference teams – UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and Cincinnati – into the new AAC led to a new direction that will  bring the event to the home of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, at least for one season

Homophobia And Women’s Basketball: An Honest Look

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Baylor women's basketball, Big East women's basketball, Brittney Griner, Geno Auriemma, Hartford women's basketball, jen rizzotti, Kara Lawson, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

I invite you to give this column by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant a sincere read. It is about how homosexuality is perceived, discussed and dealt with in women’s basketball.

Within this piece you will hear from Geno Auriemma, Jen Rizzotti, Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo, among others, who discuss the facts, misconceptions, biases and realities of life in women’s college basketball, the WNBA and in high school.

It’s a topic brought to life when Brittney Griner told ESPNW recently that Baylor coach Kim Mulkey asked her to keep her sexuality a secret, so not to interfere with potential problems it might cause in recruiting or possible scrutiny it would bring to a program within an institution that’s view on gay rights leans to ultra-conservatism.

If you’ve ever wondered why male athletes tend to be homophobic but females more tolerant and understanding you need to read this.

If you want to know how gay and straight teammates seem to get along in women’s basketball you need to read this.

If you want to know if coaches use each other’s sexuality against each other in recruiting or purposefully ignore gay players you need to read this.



The American Athletic Conference Primed For Next Week’s Meeting

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Big East women's basketball, UConn men's basketball, UConn women's basketball, XL Center Date:

Over the next day or two, representatives of the athletic departments of the colleges and universities comprising the new American Athletic Conference, at least for the 2013-14 season, will converge on Ponte Vedra, Fla., for the annual spring meeting.

Discussion is scheduled to start Monday morning and end sometime Tuesday afternoon. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of time to discuss much important business, its nothing out of the norm for these gatherings.

This new collection of schools will officially begin to be called the AAC once competition ends in the spring sports; baseball, softball, track and field, rowing and lacrosse. But while teams are still vying for championships this season they will do so under the Big East banner.

By June, the Big East will be a conference that will include Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul, St. John’s, Villanova, Marquette and Georgetown. Notre Dame will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.

For one more year, leftovers Louisville and Rutgers will play in the AAC before the Cardinals go to the ACC and Rutgers joins the Big Ten. They will be joined this season in the AAC by UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Memphis, SMU, Houston and Temple.

East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa will join the ACC for 2014-15 after Louisville and Rutgers leave. And the Navy joins as a football only member in 2015.

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How The 10-Second Backcourt Rule Could Impact Women’s Basketball

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, Anne Donovan, Big East women's basketball, Connecticut Sun, Debbie Fiske, Geno Auriemma, Kelly Faris, NCAA, Rebecca Lobo, UConn women's basketball, WNBA Date:

I reached out this afternoon to some of my go-to basketball brains to see what they thought of the possibility that the  NCAA would add the 10-second rule back to women’s basketball.

If you don’t know what that is, well, before a team could take all the time in the world to bring the ball across midcourt on offense during a possession.

Now, if the rule is enacted as the committee has proposed, an offense will have only 10 seconds to cross the stripe.

It may not sound like a big thing, but it can have a major impact on the already skewed power structure in the game.

Here’s what my experts had to say:

Debbie Fiske (radio analyst for UConn women’s basketball and former Huskies point guard)

“I like the idea of the 10-second backcourt call coming back into play.  Before, the advantage went to the offense.  Now the advantage slides back towards defense. In addition to speeding up the game it also presents new strategies for teams to employ. In games when teams are down or choose a pressing style defense to cause turnovers to fuel a run, the offense won’t have 90 feet and 30 seconds to break pressure, but will only have the back court and 10 seconds to get the ball over half court – more opportunity to cause more traps and turnovers in addition to getting a 10 second call as a turnover.  A team that may be very strong in the half court set, but not the best ball handling team under full court pressure will notice the difference in strategy.”

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