Hoops with House Blog #5

NCAA Tourney Time! I have two TV’s and two computers with split monitors going...

usually 3-6 games at once... and it’s NOT ENOUGH! You know there is problem when I eat all of my meals in my office in front of the computer! Love it!

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Here are my random thoughts on great performances, sleepers, great games and the upsets in the NCAA Tournament.

Is it too early to start looking at the 2014 draft? Alyssa Thomas put on a special performance vs. Quinnipiac. I know Quinnipiac is a 13 seed and not what Thomas is used to seeing in the ACC or what she will see in the WNBA, but she did it all - drive, transition, rebound, create shots, make teammates better, rebound. Whew! Thomas had 29 points and 13 rebounds and really could not be stopped getting into the lane.

Tianna Hawkins showed her niche in this draft, her ability to rebound the ball. She just goes and gets it! Hawkins had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Maryland. Next up – Michigan State.

UCLA’s Markel Walker has helped herself a great deal down the stretch. The conference and NCAA Tournaments have brought her back up the draft list I would think. At the conclusion of the 2011-12 NCAA season many looked to Walker as a sure fire top pick. Early this season she seemed to be up and down and consistency wasn’t always there. Late in the season, as the Bruins have now won seven of their last eight (including knocking off then #5 Cal – Walker 23 pts/7 rebounds on 10/13 was as well as I’ve seen her play) Walker has played harder and been more consistent at the right time for UCLA as well as when it matters most to her professional prospects.

On another note, with the USC head coaching job open the fact that UCLA is still playing and playing well means Coach Cori Close is putting a lock down on LA for bragging rights.

South Carolina point guard Ieasia Walker, the SEC defensive player of the year, had 15 points, four assists, three steals while shooting 50% from the field for the Gamecocks. But, it is her overall defensive play has continued to be impressive. She has absorbed the demeanor of her coach during her time in Columbia... tough, calm, relentless. 5’8 is “generous,” but Walker can play, she can lead and she can defend.

As well as UCLA and Stanford have played... another Pac 12 team, Cal, could win it all. You heard it here first! Well, maybe second! I think Obama said he thinks they could win it all. Cal was as efficient a team as there is in the tournament during the first half vs. South Dakota State. The Bears scored in a variety of ways on 12 consecutive possessions to end the first half. A major obstacle is the Bears could very well face Stanford for the third time in the regional semifinal. Remember, Cal beat Stanford in Palo Alto to start their 16-game winning streak. Cal has a little bit of everything - solid guard play, stingy defense, enough three-point shooting, post play and they are relentless on the offensive glass. Senior Layshia Clarendon added 19 points and junior Gennifer Brandon had 17 points and 12 rebounds for California. Keep an eye on their next game vs. South Florida.

Looking for quality point guard play - look at Kansas senior Angel Goodrich, she doesn’t disappoint. Kansas rolled Colorado on their home court by 15, 67-52. Goodrich makes those around her better, she creates shots, leads -14 points on 5/16 (2/4 on threes) shooting, 8 assists and 2 steals. She played all 40 minutes vs. Colorado and the Jayhawks proved the #12, #5 match-up is still the most likely to produce an upset in any tournament. Goodrich and teammate Carolyn Davis led Kansas statistically and in grit to prove the selection committee right. After losing five of their last seven games a quick, decisive start is just what they needed.

Another upset on their home court was South Florida’s stunning win over Texas Tech in Lubbuck. Junior Inga Orekhova made sure to catch the eye of those looking to prep for the 2014 draft in scoring 20 points, including five 3s. Orekhova is a tall guard who is fearless, has a very short-term memory on missed shots and has range well past the WNBA arc.

The Smith sisters are very interesting for South Florida. Andrell finished with 13 points, but Andrea struggled with only four points on 2/11 shooting, but they still won. When both Smith’s are on and Orekhova look out, they might just prove to be Bull that could run over the Bear in the next round.

Is it me or does it seem like not that many people are talking Tennessee basketball? Watch them - they are good! With only two seniors I haven’t watched them as closely as usual, but they chalked up another SEC regular season title and their games down the stretch as well as their first round game vs. Oral Roberts (winning eight of ten) have had some very dominate moments. Meighan Simmons is putting together a very impressive resume’ for GM’s to consider next year. Not only does she have the ability to score, but also she defends with passion and at a high level.

Easily the most exciting game thus far in the tournament is the Dayton – St. John’s game - a double-OT thriller (the first double OT game in the tournament in over a decade) and 96-90 win for the 28-2 Flyers. Dayton is one of those teams, a program, having an exceptional season. The Flyers won their first Atlantic 10 regular-season title, have already surpassed the school record for wins and is in its fourth straight NCAA tournament. The loss ended the St. John's collegiate careers for seniors Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith. McKenith is a tough, hard nosed point guard finished as the school's all-time assist leader and Smith the fourth-leading all-time scorer. The pair helped St. John's reach the NCAA tournament each year they were there. The school had only reached the NCAA tournament four times before they stepped on campus.

All season the Flyers used a balanced offense that features four players averaging in double figures. Eight different players have led the Flyers in scoring at some point this season. They are fun to watch. The Dayton squad lost a lot to graduation this past year and has the sixth youngest roster in the country. This was not supposed to be “the” year for Dayton. Maybe it is, but any way you look at it the future is incredibly bright in Dayton, OH.

By the time I check back in again there will be an NCAAW Champion and I am so excited to watch over the next couple of weekends. In the meantime make sure you remember to check out our Sky women in the OVERSEAS UPDATE. Their international seasons will be winding down and we’ll be welcoming them home soon!

Don’t forget to buy your Sky season tickets early; you want your pick of the best seats in the house for all of the 2013 season action!

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