Category Archives: NCAA

Major Changes Coming For Women’s Tournament

by Categorized: NCAA, Uncategorized Date:

With many superstar coaches in attendance Monday in Indianapolis – including Geno Auriemma, Muffet McGraw, Tara VanDerveer, Sherri Coale, Jeff Walz, ,Vivian Stringer and Jen Rizzotti – recommendations to alter the look of the NCAA Tournament and women’s Final Four were agreed to at NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis.

 It was recommended the Women’s Final Four be moved a weekend later, after completion of the men’s Final Four, with a Friday-Sunday format. Also, the top 16 seeds should host first- and second-round games for future Division I Women’s Basketball Championships.

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NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Implementing Change

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, 2014 Women's Final Four, NCAA, UConn women's basketball Date:

Acting quickly this week in Nashville, the site of the 2014 Final Four, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament committee recommended revisions to the way its version of March Madness might look in the future.

Less than two weeks after suggestions were forwarded in a report by Val Ackerman, the new commissioner of the Big East, the committee decided to immediately allow institutions to host regional finals on home courts.

It will also establish a “Stakeholders’ Summit” at the 2014 Women’s Final Four to further study other possible alterations.

“[The speed of change] all depends on where the changes need to be made,” said Anucha Browne, vice president of the tournament championship committee. “There are things than can be implemented quickly and there are others which will require much more time and thought.”


This summit, which is to include personnel from all corners of women’s basketball, will consider the following changes beginning as soon as 2015.

•Shifting of weekend playing dates for the women’s Final Four from Sunday-Tuesday to Friday-Sunday, with preliminary round game days aligned accordingly.

•Possible first- and second-round byes for as many as the top-32 seeds, so lower-seeded teams play in earlier rounds

•Combining the women’s Final Four with the Division II and Division III Women’s Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in the Olympics year of 2016.

“There is great value in Val’s recommendations and we spent a considerable amount of time during our meetings in discussion of the issues affecting the championship, while balancing decisions as to what is best for the student-athletes,” said Carolayne Henry, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and senior associate commissioner at the Mountain West Conference. “Decisions reached by the committee this week are just the tip of the iceberg as we set a prioritization schedule for next best steps for the game and championship.”

Regional hosting will allow UConn, for instance, to play on what is considered its home court beginning with the 2014 tournament. That means third- and fourth-round games – the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight – could be played at Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center.

However, an institution that decides to bid for a regional will not also be allowed to host a subregional in the same championship season.

The committee prefers that host institutions be limited to a regional in no more than two consecutive years.

Two of Ackerman’s most innovative proposals – allowing Top 16 tournament seeds to host first- and second-round games and melding four four-team regionals into two eight-team events – have been temporarily tabled, pending more study.

“I know they [the NCAA] want more upsets,” said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez, the past president of the Big East women’s basketball coaches and an NCAA liaison. “If they want more upsets, how to do they think they are going to happen if you play on the home court of a top 16-seeded team? But if you are looking for an attendance boost [home court] will help.”

The bid process for hosting first- and second-round and regional rounds for the 2014 and 2015 championship begins July 15. The NCAA is expected to announce those who have won bids in early September.

UConn, which hosted first- and second-round games last season, originally had not planned to bid for 2014 games. It’s unclear whether the opportunity to play this season’s regional at home will change their point of view.

The committee will explore a variety of championship format options going forward for the 64 participants. That could include lower-seeded teams potentially playing each other in the first two rounds, with the top 32 seeds earning byes.

That would mean the 33rd seed plays the 64th in a first-round game, and so forth down the line. The committee was undecided about where those games would be played, but it said to be strongly in favor of campus sites with the higher seed hosting.

NCAA Set To Begin Study Of Revamped Division I Women’s Tournament

by Categorized: 2014 NCAA women's tournament, 2014 Women's Final Four, Anucha Browne, NCAA, Val Ackerman Date:

The NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship committee will meet in Nashville next week to discuss changes that could reshape the way the postseason tournament is presented beginning this season.

   Anucha Browne, vice president of the championship committee, said Thursday the group will consider suggestions made by Val Ackerman, the former WNBA President, in a “White Paper” released this week that discussed the state of women’s college basketball.

 As it relates to the NCAA Tournament, Ackerman’s ideas include:

* Changing the dates of Final Four games from Sunday-Tuesday to Friday-Sunday

* Allowing the 16 top seeds in the tournament to host first- and second-rounds games, as opposed to picking neutral sites

* Condensing the sub-regionals from four four-team tournaments to two eight-team affairs

* Restructuring the way the 64 teams play down by introducing first-round games that will feature only the last 32 seeded teams.

“At that point, the members of the committee will have a chance to consider those points,” Browne said Thursday. “They will be vetted to determine if there is more factual information we need to collect before moving on. We will do that.”

  Browne said one thing that will not change are the sites of the next three Final Fours. But things may change with the dates of the regional preceding them.

 “Obviously for the next three years we are locked into Final Four sites. We will be in Nashville, Tampa (2015) and Indianapolis (2016),” she said. “And because we have contracts for these events, if you want to change the day format we may find that those obligations may prohibit that from happening.

  “And going to a Friday-Sunday format could have an impact on the dates of the regionals that precede it. It could mean the student/athletes may need to go directly from the sub-regional site to the Final Four site instead of campus. That would cause a trickle affect we need to think about. We might need to change the dates of those regionals, as well.”

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


As It Waits For AAC Approval, Mohegan Sun Doubtful To Get NCAA Blessing

by Categorized: ACC, American Athletic Conference, Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun, Gampel Pavilion, Mohegan Sun Arena, NCAA, UConn women's basketball, Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard, WNBA Date:

The Mohegan Sun Arena’s capacity to host postseason women’s basketball was heartily endorsed this week by the coaches and athletic directors of the American Athletic Conference at their inaugural meeting in Florida.
The facility is now waiting for the AAC presidents to approve the start of formal negotiations with the building that is expected to confirm the site as host of the 2014 postseason tournament.
That will process will be starting soon now that the conference coaches and athletic directors have supported it.
Still, that is not how the Mohegan Sun Arena wants this all to end. But it’s motivation to become a big-time suitor for future NCAA Tournaments is likely to be to contested by the NCAA.
On Thursday, Chris Sienko, the GM of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, which open the 2013 season in the arena on Saturday against New York, said the building, host of the 2014 All-Star game in July, wants to immediately bid on future NCAA subregional and regional tournaments.
“We [the Mohegan Sun Arena] were told [by the NCAA] that we couldn’t bid last year [for a regional final] once the NCAA took it away from  Trenton,N.J.,” Sienko said.

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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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NCAA Rules Committee Asks For 10-Second Rule (Among Others)

by Categorized: NCAA, UConn women's basketball Date:

There is some big news coming out of the NCAA women’s basketball rules committee today. And the biggest is that the game seems ready to bring the 10-second in the backcourt for the first time since the NCAA began administrating the sport in 1981-82.

Previously, teams could take as much time off the 30-second shot clock as they wanted before crossing the mid-court line. Officials would use the shot clock to determine if a 10-second violation has occurred.

Women’s intercollegiate basketball is the only level in the sport throughout the world that does not have a backcourt rule in place.

If this rule is adopted, the committee also recommends the closely guarded rule in the backcourt be eliminated from the rules book.

What this means is, that a player holding the ball for five seconds with a defender not exceeding six feet will be called for violation. Previously, the defender had to be within three feet to earn a five-second call.

There’s more….

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Bashing Bridgeport: Not Really

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, Bridgeport, NCAA, UConn women's basketball, Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard Date:

So much mail, so little time to respond to it all. So allow me to take this shortcut.

Earlier this week, I took a playful jab at Bridgeport as an NCAA Tournament site, saying since UConn Nation (and its media) have to go there the NCAA should be fair about it and send Tennessee and/or Delaware there, too, to entertain us.

Many objected to it, saying I should be more supportive of Bridgeport because I live and work in Connecticut. I think Governor Malloy should wear socks when he goes out during the winter. But that’s his business.

I understand the hometown sentiment from the Land of Steady Habits. We need to support each other, stick up for each other. Hey, I was born in Bridgeport, lived there for five years, learned to fear clowns attending the Wing-Ding at Beardsley Park when I was a child.

I learned to love Dairy Queen there. Thank you, Bridgeport. Thank you.

But in this particular case, I have a problem.

I view the NCAA Tournament as a reward for the programs that qualify for it. And the NCAA looks at the women’s tournament as a niche event with limited geographic possibilities.

History supports the contention. Just check the attendance figures for first- and second-round, third- and fourth-round games. Uh, not so good.

So the Selection Committee tries to assign teams to regions and locales for the tournament based on projections for attendance and revenue.

So while the men get to go to Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, You Name It, the women are sent to – Bridgeport. And that’s because fans will go to Bridgeport to watch UConn.

That is simply not right and not fair on a number of levels, particularly competitively for those who have to deal with the Huskies on essentially their home floor.

But it is also business appropriate and the only option the tournament has to make sure television screens are not filled with seas of empty seats.

So, I don’t dislike Bridgeport (the Merritt Canteen, yum-yum). I like it much more than Trenton, for instance.

I just dislike the reality that deems its candidacy as a staple venue crucial to the sport’s success.

I hope that explains it.








It Hasn’t Been Easy For Brittney Griner

by Categorized: Anne Donovan, Baylor women's basketball, Big East women's basketball, Brittney Griner, Connecticut Sun, Geno Auriemma, Kara Wolters, Kim Mulkey, NCAA, Rebecca Lobo, UConn women's basketball, USA Basketball, XL Center Date:

The day before Brittney Griner led Baylor to an undefeated NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship last April, Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey, never at a loss for words, took a deep breath during her pregame press briefing.

What followed was a most stirring soliloquy about how complex, how impossibly difficult it is to look different, to sound different, to seem different but know you don’t feel that you are.

“Social media is the worst thing that’s happened … This [Griner] is someone’s child. This is a human being, people,” Mulkey said.

“She didn’t wake up and say:  ‘God, make me look like this; make me be 6’8.”  This child is as precious [a person] as they come, when it comes to being a good person, a sweet kid and coachable. She probably the greatest player I have ever coached and likely the easiest to coach.

“I love going to work and seeing Brittney Griner’s face.  She just makes me happy.”

What hasn’t made Mulkey happy is what she’s heard and read about Griner; the assumptions and cruel jokes, the scandalous accusations; some ridiculous, most just blatantly mean-spirited about her.

“The stuff she’s had to read about, the stuff she’s had to hear, the stuff people say about her, the stuff people write about her, it’s gotta stop,” Mulkey begged.  “That stuff’s gotta stop.”

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Geno Says “No” To The Concept Of Independence

by Categorized: 2013 NCAA Tournament, ACC, Big East women's basketball, Geno Auriemma, NCAA, SNY, UConn football, UConn men's basketball, UConn women's basketball Date:

Amid the on-going realignment in the NCAA, which has temporarily left UConn feeling somewhat abandoned in the Big East, there has been some thought that the women’s basketball program could do just fine out on their own as an independent.

Geno Auriemma doesn’t agree and says he’s not interested in pursuing it – in thought or action.

“No, I don’t think we can do it and I don’t think it would be worthwhile to do it,” Auriemma said. “And I don’t want to do it. There is something about playing for a conference championship or trying to build allegiances wherever you can.

“If all you had to do was play 12 games a year [football] and could schedule them 10 years in advance, great. But I am not sure that works anymore in basketball, like Notre Dame, Marquette and DePaul once did. There is something to be said about being in a league and experiencing the traditions that come with it.”

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