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Prep’s Presley to sign with WSU

Gonzaga Prep senior Tia Presley, No. 23, is going to sign a letter of intent to play basketball at Washington State.

Women sweep exhibitions

No surprises as long as we judge on W’s and L’s, the area women’s basketball teams won their exhibition games.

Gonzaga, Eastern and Idaho won handily, Washington State struggled.

One list has Courtney Vandersloot of Gonzaga as the No. 13 on a list of NCAA WNBA Draft prospects. There is more, a couple other exhibition games and notes, on the extended entry.

Basketball special section out

As advertised, our college basketball preview came out today.

It has a Facebook look and starts with a John Blanchette column on the social media - and you don’t want to miss that.

Women’s basketball information is on Pages 6 & 7 of the complete section which also includes a short story on the farewell tour of the Class of 2007.

A few other notes below on exhibition games and previews of exhibition games.

Exhibition games on tap this weekend

Our basketball preview section comes out tomorrow. The plan is to link to the women’s stories as soon as possible before heading off to the Tri-Cities to cover a football playoff game on Friday and state cross country on Saturday.

Plan to use Friday’s post as a forum to discuss how the area teams look during their exhibition games. Idaho plays LC State on Friday, Gonzaga plays Western Oregon on Saturday and Eastern plays Simon Fraser and Washington State plays LCSC on Sunday. I’ll be curious to hear your opinions and if you see LC State, which has a handful of area players, how they looking, including freshman and special friend Loree Hill.

There are a few notes for today on the extended entry.

GU women in coaches Top 25

Gonzaga cracked the Top 25 of the coaches preseason poll, where UConn isn’t a unanimous pick. The Bulldogs check in at No. 22. GU got into the top 20 last year but have never been in a preseason poll.

More news below.

Katie Baker back big for Grizzlies

Working on women’s basketball preview for next week before heading off to a hockey game. No doubt we’ll stumble into a number of things to share with you on this post, so keep checking back.

Swishappeal website looks at Gonzaga and star Courtney Vandersloot, who is doing a blog for the GU website. Speaking of blogs, Eastern sharpshooter Kayla Evans is reviving hers and it’s quite well done. I believe I tweeted (SRtrim) in the past that Northern Arizona senior Jenna Gallway (Ferris) is also writing.

Sometime today the West Coast Conference will shock us with the announcement that Gonzaga is favored to win the WCC championship, as the Bulldogs have done the past six seasons. Any guesses to who will join Vandersloot on the preseason all-league team?

 

Montana had it’s intrasquad scrimmage last night and Katie Baker (Lake City) was back in full force (read what coach Robin Selvig said here about Baker before the game, plus check this out on the baseball nut coach), 25 points in a losing effort. Her first game since blowing an ACL at Eastern last year. Unfortunately, no sign of Misty Atkinson (Clarkston), who has battled injuries her whole career.

GU to host NCAA women again in 2012

Gonzaga is one of 16 sites the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee announced for the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs are hosting the 2011 tournament in March and have already sold more than 2,100 all-session packages. Washington State is the host for the 2011 West Regional at the Arena the following weekend.

The 2012 regionals are at Des Moines, Iowa; Fresno, Calif.; Kingston, R.I., and Raleigh, N.C.

First round sites are below.

Montana, EWU women picked 1-2

Montana has been tabbed by coaches and media in the Big Sky Conference preseason women’s basketball polls but Eastern Washington, which won it’s first-ever regular-season title last year, picked up a couple of first-place votes and finished second in both. The Eagles boast the Coach of the Year in Wendy Schuller and return league MVP Julie Piper. Portland State is third in both polls.

Tennessee is picked No. 1 in the SEC and senior Angie Bjorklund is a preseason all-league selection.

 

One ballot for women’s preseason Top 25

College basketball practice is underway. For the women it’s been underway for a couple of weeks. For some seven teams, they’ll be practicing in Spokane until late in March. That’s four teams at the NCAA Tournament at Gonzaga March 19-22 and, I’m assuming something here, the survivor and three other teams at the Regional in the Arena March 26 & 28.

It’s a complete crapshoot who might make it to Gonzaga (and I’ll assume something here) to join the Bulldogs for the first two rounds. As for the Regional, the theory is it should be four of the Top - hoping to be Sweet - 16.

That’s a round-about way to say Friday is my deadline for my ballot for the preseason AP Top 25, which will be formally released on Friday, Oct. 29. However, you can see my ballott below - along with my preseason All-American first team, which will be out the following Tuesday.

You can get this information quicker, along with other tidbits as I discover them, quicker through Twitter, SRtrim.

Idaho women picked 4th/5th

The Western Athletic Conference released its women’s basketball preseason coaches and media polls Tuesday, and the Idaho Vandals were picked to finish fourth by the league’s head coaches, and fifth by the media.ESPN’s women’s basketball schedule is also out. (We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to let you know I have joined the Tweet world and will be tweeting about women’s basketball season as new arrives. I’m at SRtrim.)

Nilles commits to Gonzaga

West Valley standout Shaniqua Nilles, a 5-11 guard, has committed to the Gonzaga women’s basketball team.

“I always wanted to go there,” she said. “It’s close to home. I’ve known coach (Kelly) Graves for a long time. They have a good program. My best friend, Jazmine Redmon (Mead), is there this year. Just a lot of good reasons.”

The Great Northern League MVP and 2A all-state player for the Eagles added, “I think I could be a good strength outside for them. I’m a taller guard. It’s going to be a challenge. I  know I’m going to have to work really hard and push myself.”

Women start basketball practice early

Most women’s basketball teams started practice today, well before the men, because of a new NCAA rule. They still get the same number of practices, they’re just spread out more. Some schools are ignoring the earlier opportunity, some welcome it and you can check that out here.

We went by Gonzaga, which made the Sweet 16 last season and is hosting the NCAA Tournament this season, which could increase the pressure on the Bulldogs to make it again - or not. Also in the story are some notes, including a former local standout transferring and some freshmen committing.

Clinesmith now assistant at Central

Former Mead standout Stacy Clinesmith has been hired as an assistant with the Central Washington women’s basketball program. The information is below, but it doesn’t say what the former pro did in the last year … which I believe was coaching high school in the northeast. Hopefully a reader can help us out. … What really hurts is Clinesmith is now 32 - and I didn’t think I was that old since it was only yesterday she led the Panthers to a state title.

Women’s practice starts over the weekend, but all I know so far is Gonzaga is having a function at 5 p.m. Saturday at McCarthey.

Frieson cut

Tulsa Shock coach Nolan Richardson announced that Vivian Frieson and Juanita Ward were released from their training camp contracts on Wednesday, according to Tulsa World reporter Lynn Jacobsen, making room for Ivory Latta, who is expected to join the team on Thursday.

Frieson was a third-round draft pick last month out of Gonzaga while Ward emerged through the open tryouts the team held in April.

“At this point, the veterans are a little ahead of the players just coming out of college,” Richardson said. “They have a little maturity, a little better understanding of what the game is all about. Phoenix cut its No. 1 draft choice. So that says a lot about how hard (Frieson and Ward) worked.

“They could make a team. It’s just so sad that the numbers game got them. It was a tough decision to let them go.”

Frieson is the first Gonzaga player ever drafted. Teammate Heather Bowman is trying to make the WNBA’s Seattle Storm as a free agent but the odds are stacked against her.

 

Bowman signs with Storm

Heather Bowman, Gonzaga’s and the West Coast Conference’s all-team leading scorer, has a chance to continue her basketball career close to home. The Lewis and Clark graduate has signed a free-agent contract with the Seattle Storm.

It’s not on the WNBA team’s website but we have it from a good source.

We’ll use that as a jumping off point to catch up on women’s basketball news. Keep reading.

Redmon MVP, Nicholas does well

Information from the Washington-Oregon basketball game, where Mead’s Jazmine Redmon was the MVP in the girls game and G-Prep’s Ryan Nicholas had a big game for the boys.

Redmon and future Gonzaga teammate Danielle Walters of Pasco made the difference down the stretch while Nicholas was playing on his future home court, Portland’s Childs Center.

Frieson drafted

Calling it more than a dream come true, Gonzaga senior Vivian Frieson was selected in the WNBA Draft Thursday afternoon.

Frieson was picked by the Tulsa Shock with the seventh pick in the third round, 31st overall. The Shock is a the highly successful (on the court) Detroit franchise that moved to Tulsa after last season.

The graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle is the first Zag to get drafted and we could say the fourth Spokane-based player, joining three GSL alumns who were drafted. Those details are in the unedited story I filed for Friday’s paper, posted below.

Fortier has baby

Gonzaga assistant basketball coach Lisa Mispley Fortier (above right with pregnant GU assistant Jodi Kazor Berry with players hamming it up in the background of this Dan Pelle photo) gave birth to a boy Saturday morning.

Marcus William, whose dad Craig is also a coach, an assistant coach at Whitworth, joined the lineup at 8:05, weighing 8 pounds, 1 ounce and 201/2-inches long.

It was big news at Gonzaga when doctors allowed Fortier to go to the Sweet 16. Turns out it wasn’t even a close call.

Also on Saturday, Gonzaga junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot earned her second All-America honor as an honorable mention for the WBCA/State Farm Coaches’ All-America team. She was the first Bulldog to earn honorable mention Associated Press honors two years in a row and now she is the first recognized by two different organizations in the same season. The coaches also named Tennessee junior Angie Bjorklund (University High School) honorable mention.

Gonzaga roundup

With a few minutes before it’s time to head to the airport, I’ll pass on as much information as possible from last night’s Not-so-Sweet 16 game. Xavier’s size eventually wore Gonzaga down, helped by outside shooting the Musketeers didn’t have when they met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

We squeezed in a game story and John Blanchette’s column, plus Colin Mulvany’s photos, including the one above.

At least we got to write for the paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s  John Erardi had to put his story on the website and Jimmy Spencer’s sidebar on Amber Harris and the BIG matchup with Stanford, plus a gallary of photos from Joseph Fuqua II.

The Sacramento Bee “boxing” story and notebook,  there  is a local tie that’s not the Stanford coach, but it isn’t connected. Tara Vanderveer’s sister Heidi, coached at Eastern Washington. Finally, the Bee’s Ailene Voisin has a column that’s a nice read on the good side of a rivalry.

Gonzaga X’d out of NCAA Tournament

Gonzaga’s magic basketball season came crashing down, as did Bulldogs point guard Courtney Vandersloot in the Colin Mulvany photo above, as Xavier dominated the second half for a 74-56 win in the Sweet 16 game Saturday night at Arco Arena.

The unedited game story is below. Not much time for anything else. We will return to links and more information, dependent on the travel situation.

It’s over for Lady Vols

While watchng Baylor and Tennessee to kick off a women’s Sweet 16 … ooo Lady Vols lose, should be interesting reading - the comments, more than the stories, on Sunday.

Onward with Gonzaga-Xavier, tonight at Arco Arena.

The Cincinnati Enquirer looks at a Vivian Frieson-Amber Harris matchup and notebook.

The Sacramento Bee capsules.

A repeat of our story, John  Blanchette’s column but our caps didn’t make it on-line so they’re posted below.

A vote for Frieson

Vivian Frieson, who enjoyed a laugh at practice Friday in Arco Arena captured by Colin Mulvany,  led the Gonzaga women’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 but don’t go crazy about it, she might think it was creepy. Besides, according to John Blanchette’s column, it’s not like she hasn’t faced challenges before and come through.

Rematch, repeat, not really

It may seem like deja vu with Gonzaga facing Xavier in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the second year in a row but it’s really not. At least that’s what the take we got today as the teams prepared for Saturday night’s Sweet 16 showdown. The story is below, the team is above, posing at Arco Arena and captured by Colin Mulvany.

Gonzaga-Xavier, a review before preview

Thursday is the travel day for Gonzaga, headed to the Sweet 16 and a date with Xavier Saturday night at ARCO Arena in Sacramento.

We’re working on a feature story, but thought we would revisit some history - Gonzaga’s historic victory over Xavier in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It’s posted below, above is a picture of Ta’Shia Phillips splitting Heather Bowman and Vivian Frieson on her way to 26 points and 18 boards.

Graves injures thumb after win

Just kidding, but you might wonder why.

Kelly Graves was enjoying a little mid-day R&R when we found him.

One question had to be asked - and of course I asked more than one - but didn’t we leave you hanging with one big one after Gonzaga earned its first trip to the Women’s Sweet 16 last night? Aren’t we wondering how many messages a phone can hold after a team upends a two-seed 72-71 on national television?

Now we know. Keep reading.

And while you’re at it, here’s an ESPN.com piece on GU taking the next step; the College Station, Tex, newspaper story on the A&M loss (with all the reasons why, which we didn’t get to use because we were looking at all the reasons why the Zags won); San Antonio story; Seattle Times story and blog; Everett Herald story; and the Associated Press story.

Zags a true team

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team is going whether no other has gone, the Sweet 16. The true talent of this team was on display in a 72-71 win over Texas A&M because they did it with the best player not at her best. S-R columnist John Blanchette’s column is below.

Will try to get to some links some time tomorrow but there’s a drive home, a hockey story to do and travel plans to make. I will get to it as soon as possible.

GU women face A&M

A little morning surfing before the Gonzaga women face Texas A&M tonight in the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament. The game is  n ESPN2 and 1510 AM radio. Tip-off is about 6:40, after the 4 p.m. games that includes Tennessee.  Keep reading for stories we’ve found.

Gonzaga gets signature win

At times it appeared the Gonzaga women’s basketball team was playing against the jersey, which shouldn’t be surprising since the first round oppenent in the NCAA Tournament game was at North Carolina.

And there were moments it appeared the Bulldogs might be over-whelmed by the big, fast and athletic Tar Heels.

But in the end they proved they were an outstanding basketball team, emphasis on team, in an 82-76 win. The unedited game story is below.

The color purple and more

Picked up a few notes from practices for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament doubleheader at UW.

It includes an adverse reaction to the color purple, a presidential brush-off and Kobe. Keep reading, there are probably too many note to make Saturday’s paper.

Schuller coach of year

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.