The women’s basketball notebook this week is a short visit with the local players for NCAA-bound Portland. As usual, there are more notes than will ever make the paper, so read the story below.
As expected Wendy Schuller is the Big Sky Coach of the Year.
The final polls are out. My vote and All-American vote are also below the notebook. After having some discrepencies all season, my final 25 is the same as the coaches with most teams close to the same spot, and there are only two differences in the AP vote.
Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot is on the final for both the WBCA and Wooden All-America teams.
By Dave Trimmer
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There was no magic when Portland State coach Charity Elliott recruited the Greater Spokane League a few years ago, she just sold a dream.
“They were looking to improve their program and it seemed like a great opportunity for me,” Shadle Park graduate Lexi Bishop said. “I really didn’t know much about the program.”
Mead graduate Kelli Valentine said, “When I was getting recruited I realized it was a program on the rise and the coach did such a great job recruiting.”
Elliott didn’t stick around, heading to UC San Diego after their freshman year, but Bishop and Valentine helped make the dream come true. The Vikings are headed to the school’s first NCAA Tournament after sweeping through the Big Sky Conference Tournament at Eastern Washington last weekend.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bishop said. “You think you know what the feeling’s going to be like but really it’s sort of unreal, it doesn’t feel like it’s happening yet. It’s super exciting.”
The Vikings (18-14) play in Seattle where they’ll face second-seeded and ninth-ranked Texas A&M (25-7) at 5 p.m., just before the North Carolina-Gonzaga matchup at UW.
“I have absolutely no idea what to expect,” Bishop said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
PSU’s run through the Big Sky tourney was a surprise as the fifth-seed but not a surprise considering the Vikings were favored coming into the season.
“I’m not sure if I can put my finger on what it was,” Bishop said. “All it came down to is everybody came into the tournament with a clean slate, another chance to prove who we were. I think that’s what we did.”
Second-year coach Sherri Murrell, who is assisted by former Washington State standout Kate Benz, said they didn’t handle the pressure that comes with high expectations and Valentine concurred.
After being named the Big Sky’s Outstanding Freshman and being an honorable mention all-league pick last year as well as making the All-Tournament team when the Vikings made the championship game, Valentine was one of the players expected replace graduated all-time leading scorer Kelsey Kahle.
“This year I guess there was a little more pressure now that Kelsey was gone,” she said. “The coaches were expecting me to step up in her shoes and do what she did. I’m just not that type of player. I think I was thinking too much.”
But the tourney was a new life and she repeated as an all-tournament pick.
“If she saved her best for her home town, I don’t care,” Murrell said. “It’s getting to the dance that matters.”
Idaho coach Jon Newlee was publicly reprimanded for violating the Western Athletic Conference sportsmanship code at the league tournament last week. During the post-game press conference Newlee “extensively” criticized the officiating in the Vandals’ 80-66 semifinal loss to Fresno State. The league said any further violations could result in a minimum of a one-game suspension. …Courtney Vandersloot is a Region 8 nominee for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division I All-America team. The other Region 8 finalists are Jayne Appel and Nenkadi Ogwumike of Stanford and Alexis Gray-Lawson of Cal. Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) of Tennessee is a Region 3 nominee. … Top-seeded UC Davis fell in the Big West title game to third-seeded UC Riverside despite a career high 22-points from junior Heidi Heintz (Central Valley, who made the all-tournament team. Heintz, who hit 12 of 14 free throws in thte title game, led the Big West in free throw shooting at 85.4 percent, 29th in the nation. She was a second-team all-league selection. The Aggies (21-10) play at California tonight in the WNIT. … If Eastern Washington wins its WNIT game at Oregon on Thursday the Eagles could play at New Mexico with backup guard Nikki Nelson (Chewelah). … West Coast Conference runnerup Saint Mary’s, with freshman Tifa Puletasi (Mead) is home Sunday against Utah in the WNIT.
Saint Martin’s junior Dara Zach (U-Hi) was second-team All-Great Northwest Conference. The first team included Western Washington senior Jessica Summers, a former Idaho player. Teammates Zack, Roni Jo Mielke (Sprague-Harrington), Kelsey Baker (Lewis and Clark) and Megan Teade (Colfax) all made the league all-academic team. … Three Frontier Conference teams made the NAIA Division I national tournament in Jackson, Miss. Lewis-Clark (Nicole Miller, Curlew; Kirsi Voshell, Pullman) and Westminster play today, Montana Tech (Jessica DePell, Freeman; Amanada Krieg, Springdale) plays Thursday. … Eastern Oregon Alyssa Garro, Pullman; Salena Leavitt, Central Valley; Kyle Miller, Cheney; Samantha Flett, Wellpinit; Ashlee Michelson, North Central) lost 67-68 to Black Hills State in its first game at the NAIA Div. 2 National Tournament last week.
Women’s basketball Top 25
March 14, 2010
7. Texas A&M
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. West Virginia
11. Florida State
15. St. John’s
17. Iowa State
20. Oklahoma State
21. Middle Tennessee
22. Michigan State
Women’s Basketball 2010 Post-season All-American ballot
Player of the Year: Kelsey Griffin, sr., f, Nebraska
Coach of the Year: Connie Yow, Nebraska
F - Kelsey Griffin, sr., Nebraska
F - Maya Moore, jr., UConn
C - Tina Charles, sr., UConn
G - Danielle Robinson, jr., Oklahoma
G - Courtney Vanersloot, jr., Gonzaga
F - Nnemkadi Ogwumike, soph., Stanford
F - Amber Harris, jr., Xavier
C - Jantel Lavender, sr., Ohio State
G - Monica Wright, sr., Virginia
G - Allison Lacey, sr., Iowa State
F - Alyshia Clark, sr., Middle Tennessee State
C - Jayne Appel, sr., Stanford
G - Andrea Riley, sr., Oklahoma State
G - Angie Bjorklund, jr., Tennessee
G - Jasmine Thomas, jr., Duke