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Catching up with Emily Kuipers

I was a little remiss yesterday  in posting my weekly women’s basketball notebook, which appeared in today’s paper, along with the standings. Today’s subject was former U-Hi player Emily Kuipers, now a fifth-year senior at Regis University in Denver.

I can’t link the standings and weekend schedule, but those appear below with the area leaders and any other notes I stumble discover before I resume figure skating research.

There is Graham Hays story on ESPN.com about scheduling that is spot-on. Read it, it’s a great jumping off story for a discussion on this blog by you reluctant posters. Also, a heads up, ESPN is taking its Game Day show to a women’s game for the first day, Saturday’s No. 1 UConn vs. No. 3 Notre Dame Big East matchup.

Katie Baker out for season

Word from Montana, freshman Katie Baker (Lake City) is out for the season after suffering a knee injury late in the Lady Griz overtime loss at Eastern Washington Friday night. Baker had a double-double when she went down near the end of regular, her third straight in three Big Sky Conference games. Baker was leading the Grizzlies with 11.5 and 6.9 rebounds a game.

The new - or the return to the old - schedule that has Big Sky Conference teams playing Friday-Saturday instead of Thursday-Saturday to save money and class time, isn’t what it seems and coaches are extremely unhappy, according to a Bill Spletlz story in The Missoulian.

The top 25 is out, my vote is below.

GU women blitz Portland

The Gonzaga women opened up defense of their WCC title - all five of them - much better than last year. The Bulldogs destroyed Portland 90-54 Saturday afternoon at McCarthey Athletic Center, the unedited game story is below.

Meanwhile, Eastern Washington had a huge win over Montana last night and we just learned Griz freshman Katie Baker, who had her third straight doubel-double, is injured and did not continue on the road trip for tonight’s game at Portland State. Washington State continues to stumble, falling at home to Arizona State this afternoon. Idaho had it’s league opener against Fresno State and the Eagles beat Montana State tonight, which let a big lead slip away at PSU last night. The Vikings edged Montana on Saturday.

Lot of big games nationally, including two of particular intest - Baylor loses and Texas A&M whips Texas. That’s four Big 12 teams square off and two more are meeting right now, unbeaten Nebraska and Iowa State. No. 7 North Carolina became the latest team to fail miserable against UConn.

Disappointing start for Cougar women

It was disappointing to see Washington State lost at home to Arizona, especially when Washington knocked off Arizona State.

That means the Cougars are 0-3 in the Pac-10, losing at Oregon State and Oregon and to the Wildcats, teams along with the 2-1 Huskies they were picked to finish ahead of. There is no question WSU has more talent but at the moment that’s not translating into wins. What’s up with that?

For a few more notes, including the key West Coast Conference opener, keep reading

WCC, WAC open league play

Starting to get overwhelmed by figure skating preparation and with three hockey games this week women’s basketball posts and links are a bit thin.

Our unedited notebook follows, as well as the Top 25 vote, with quite a bit of shakeup at the bottom. Gonzaga and Idaho jump into league play on Saturday with the Bulldogs offering a pretty good deal - $25 gets four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks plus the chance to see Portland, which shocked the Zags at home with local product Tara Cronin going off for a career double-double day.

More notes below with the notebook.

GU women win big

Gonzaga prepared for its West Coast Conference opener in 10 days with an 88-52 win over UC Santa Barbara in women’s basketball action Wednesday night.

The extended link has the unedited game story plus some information on a big night for Spokane native Angie Bjorklund in No. 4 Tennessee’s rout of Old Dominion.

WSU, EWU women start league play

Eastern Washington and Washington State women’s basketball teams open conference play with the New Year and our basketball notebook takes a look at that from their angle after a short feature on Eagle senior Jessica Huntington.

The unedited notebook is posted below but first a couple of questions:

Where do you think the optimistic Cougars will finish in the Pac-10?

Will Eastern Washington make the (top 6) Big Sky Conference tournament?

With the schedule Gonzaga played (three top 15’s, four ranked teams) and tried to play (expecting more from some traditional powers), did the Bulldogs get enough out of their schedule? If Wednesday’s Santa Barbara goes as expected, is that a good game or bad game before a 9-day break before opening league play?

Here’s the top 25, which includes 23 of the teams I voted on with all 25 in the top 29. Read on.

Gu women back on track

Stopped in to watch the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, not expecting much of a game and it wasn’t, a 30-point romp for the Bulldogs over UC Irvine. Just wanted to see if there was an lingering affects from the disappointment of a lost weekend in Las Vegas (well, not compared to the move Hangover). After an average first half the Zags answered that with a sensational second half.

The unedited game story filed for Monday’s newspaper is on the extended entry, along with my Top 25 for this week (see if you notice the one change) and a few other items.

Plenty of women’s basketball news

Sorry for the delay in posting information - it’s holiday time.

Below is the unedited notebook I filed for Wednesday’s paper and my vote for the AP top 25.

A couple of links for you enjoyment. A look at the Las Vegas tournament Gonzaga just play, which described the Zags as a one-and-done NCAA team (the story by Charlie Creme, ESPN’s bracketologist, seems to forget this same group won a game last year). UConn and Stanford stories for Wednesday afternoon’s big showdown (2:30 p.m., ESPN2). Also, U-Hi’s Angie Bjorklund takes leadership responsibility in Tennessee’s loss at Stanford, while Lady Vol’s coach Pat Summitt also took some blame and was still looking back two days later. The Left Coast women’s hoops blog looks at LV and UT-Stanford.

WSU women win 74-57


COUGARS

Being there was a doubleheader in Kennewick and I was there early, I covered the WSU women’s game with USF. On the link is the unedited version of the story we’ll have in tomorrow’s S-R. Read on.

Getting ready for the challenge

Gonzaga is obviously the center of attention in basketball this weekend with games in Las Vegas against No. 6 Baylor and No. 13 Texas A&M.

First, a quick correction. Despite earlier reporters, neither game - and both start at 8:45 p.m. - is on TV. However, if you want to see a high-quality women’s game, the Tennessee-Stanford game is on FSN at 11:30 a.m. Then switch to SWX for Washington’s State’s game with Nevada at 1:30.

But there is a lot of information to digest before the games, which will be on the radio. Keep reading.

Localizing Duke-Stanford women

There is really any local news today. Eastern has a game tonight, everyone plays this weekend. It’s a good chance to see the Eagles, who are improved (but get trumped by an important hockey game).

Still, there are a few tidbits of national interest to pass on. Keep reading.

Bulldogs face Baylor, A&M

The lead item for this week’s women’s basketball notebook is Gonzaga’s trip to Las Vegas, where the Bulldogs will gamble that they can keep up with a pair of Top 15 teams.

I’ve filed way too many notes to get into Wednesday’s paper but you can read them all below.

Bulldogs stepping into spotlight

The focus in women’s basketball this week is going to be on the weekend tournament in Las Vegas where No. 6 Baylor, No. 13 Texas A&M, No. 14 Arizona Stat and Gonzaga meet.

Here’s what the Zags are looking at: Baylor’s Brittney Griner was named the Big 12 Player of the Week, her second such honor and third for the Bears. Shanay Washington was the Nov. 23 recipient. Griner scored 25 points, had seven rebounds, a steal and three blocked shots to help Baylor beat Boston College 68-55 on Sunday in the Maggie Dixon Classic in Madison Square Garden. The 6-8 post led the Lady Bears in both scoring and rebounding. She was 12-of-24 from the floor and 1-for-3 from the charity stripe. Griner raised her season blocks total to 50 and continues to rank No. 2 nationally in blocks per game. She leads the Lady Bears in scoring at 17.0 points a game, averaging 24.3 over the last three outings.  Griner’s 50 blocks, nine games into the season, places her No. 8 on Baylor’s single-season block list. She needs 37 more blocks to break former Lady Bear Danielle Wilson’s single season record of 86.

For more on women’s basketball, click below.

UP’s Sollers gets 500th

First off, congratulations to good guy Jim Sollers, the Portland coach earned his 500th victory in a win over Idaho Friday night.

Saturday afternoon, Eastern Washington had no trouble with Montana Tech, limiting the Orediggers’ best player, senior Jessica DePell from Freeman, to five free throws.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Gonzaga had no trouble with Montana. Washington State won at Montana State.

GU women face critical games

Even with three games against Pac-10 schools, including a trip to No. 2 Stanford, and a daunting trip to Las Vegas to face a pair of Top 10 teams, I thought this weekend could potentially be the most important weekend on Gonzaga’s schedule.

How could that be? Keep reading.

Welcome to women’s basketball

I hesitate to start writing this because I know once I do the avalanche begins.

However, welcome to our women’s basketball blog. We do this because there is no longer enough room to get all the news and notes into the newspaper related to women’s basketball in the Inland Northwest.

We try to cover four Division I teams (Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Washington State and Idaho) equally as warranted, like to touch bases with our D-III team (Whitworth) and ocassionally touch bases with a pair of junior colleges (Spokane, North Idaho).

Mix in 14 young ladies from our area high schools playing D-I ball outside of our area and another 20 or so playing D-II, D-III or NAIA and that’s a lot of follow.

Then figure the eyes of the women’s basketball world are going to be trained on Spokane in 2011, with the first four rounds of the NCAA Tournament here, and well, that’s a ton of news to track.

I can’t promise a daily post - and I won’t post during vacations, I’m not allowed to post during my furlough and I have hockey and figure skating in my future - but I’ll do my best to keep you informed.

Keep reading for our first installment - and tomorrow’s notebook, which focus’ on Washington State and the Cougars’ recent game with St. Mary’s

 

Zags pull away from Eastern

The Gonzaga women’s basketball team used a huge second half to pull away from Eastern Washington 87-61 victory Tuesday evening at the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs, up just four at halftime, outscored the Eagles 52-30 in the second half.

Click here for the game story and here for photos from the game.

Local players making their mark

Our first women’s basketball notebook runs Wednesday but as is typical, there is too much news to squeeze into the paper.

So, it seemed like a good idea to identify the area players who have gone on to Division I schools outside of our area. Hopefully we haven’t missed anyone. We’ll try to track the D-II, D-III and NAIA players as time permits.

More notoriety for Zag women

Not to make too much of the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, afterall, the Zags are just one of four D-I teams on our property, but, let’s face it - this team is poised for the best season any of our teams have ever had.

Of course, last year probably already qualifies as the best-ever since GU became the first local program to make it to the NCAA Tournament a second time and the first to win a NCAA Tournament game.

However, this team should be better. First though, we take you back to ESPN.com, which ranks the Zags No. 1 among mid-majors, lists Friday’s season-opener at South Dakota State as one of the more and has Heather Bowman as the No. 2 power forward and Courtney Vandersloot the No. 5 point guard in player rankings, which make for an interesting debate. All that just three days after a bunch more national pub.

Gonzaga women get a little love

Graham Hays of ESPN hints that the Gonzaga women are a darkhorse to do the unthinkable - reach the Final Four and touts junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot. And Michelle Voepel of ESPN has five questions for the new season, one of which involves Tennessee and U-Hi grad Angie Bjorklund. Stanford is also part of the questions and there is one involving Baylor’s 6-foot-8 freshman, who dunked in an exhibition game. (By the way Baylor opens up at Tennessee on Sunday, ESPN2, 2 p.m., Idaho is at the Baylor Thanksgiving Tournament and GU sees Baylor in Vegas next month. WSU isn’t the only team facing Stanford, the Zags take a trip to Palo Alto at the end of the month)

While we’re at it, here’s our preseason feature on Bulldog senor Tiffany Shives to go with the preseason caps for GU, Washington State, Idaho and Eastern Washington.

The season opens this weekend. Here are the openers and home openers.

Friday: Gonzaga at last year’s mid-major power South Dakota State.

Saturday: Eastern at Portland

Sunday: UC Davis (and CV grad Heidi Heintz) at WSU

Monday: Gonzaga at Idaho.

Thursday: Idaho at Eastern; USC at Gonzaga.

It could be a great warmup season for 2010-11 when Spokane will spend two weekends in the postseason spotlight.

Keep reading for our preseason Top 25 and All-American team.

 

Four rounds of 2011 women’s tournament here

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee has selected Gonzaga to host the first two rounds of the 2011 tournament at McCarthey Athletic Center with the regional finals the next weekend at the Arena, hosted by Washington State.

Bowman faces surgery

Gonzaga junior Heather Bowman, a three-time All-West Coast Conference player and the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, played all four post-season games with a shoulder injury that will require surgery next month.
 
GU coach Kelly Graves confirmed Tuesday Bowman suffered a torn labrum in her left shoulder the first practice after the end of the regular season. She played with a brace as the Bulldogs won two games to capture the WCC Tournament title and two games in the NCAA Tournament.
 
Bowman, 6-2 out of Lewis and Clark, scored 38 points in the NCAA Tournament, including the Bulldogs first-ever win. She had 23 in a 74-59 win over No. 20 Xavier on Saturday and 15 in a 65-60 loss to No. 15 PIttsburgh on Monday. In those two games she was matched up against 6-6 posts, Ta’Shia Phillips of the Musketeers and Pepper Wilson of the Panthers despite not having the ability to extend her arm back.
 
The surgery, scheduled for April 6, requires a six-month rehabilitation, with no contact until October.

GU basketbrawl recap

After the east coast deadline, a writer from Pittsburgh couldn’t contain his admiration for Gonzaga’s women’s basketball team after a hard-fought loss to the Panthers in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s Big East basketball, he said. That’s what we see every night. Gonzaga didn’t back down. He made it a point to seek out Bulldogs coach and congratulate him.

A Gonzaga fan called way too early this morning, still excited, to say that was one of the best Gonzaga games ever - men or women. Well, the men have sure played some great games on the big stage in the last 11 years, but they had to start somewhere. Think back to ‘99 and a loss to a Big East team, UConn, in the Elite Eight. Close but no cigar.

If, and there is no reason to believe they won’t, the Bulldogs build of this, the future is indeed bright. Jami Schaefer, solid, dependable and extraoridinary leader is the only senior - and for that matter, Heather Bowman and Vivian Frieson were the only juniors to play.

And, though there isn’t much more that can be said about Courtney Vandersloot, the sophomore point guard is the real deal. She’s a player and as long as she’s healthy, the Zags are going to be on the national scene.

Rumor central: Stanford and Texas A&M have agreed to a home-and-home with the Zags, unfortunately with both on the road next year. Those kind of games pad a resume quite well.

Don’t pack those dancin’ shoes to deep in the closet.

Keep reading for links to GU stories.

Close but … for Zag women

Gonzaga got a welcome to Big East basketball but the Bulldogs didn’t back down in a hard fought, physical game with 15th-ranked Pittsburgh. Ultimately their dream of a berth in the Sweet 16 at the Oklahoma City regional was shatted, 65-60.

Read below for the unedited game story.

Gonzaga-Pitt pregame

I think I see sun in Seattle, a first since Friday, but before I go for a walk, here are some links to prepare you for Gonzaga’s game with Pitt tonight in the NCAA women’s tournament.

There is the advance story and notebook from our paper; a feature on hometown player Vivian Frieson and prediction from The Seattle Times (which was 2-2 on Saturday); The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette advance; and the Pittsburg Tribune-Post advance.

By the way, if you don’t think women’s basketball is hot in Tennessee, he’s the story from Knoxville - which had 181 comments on it.

By the way, no one is real surprised Gonzaga picked up a first round win as ESPN predicted but I haven’t discovered anything for tonight’s game.

Graham Hays’ upset watch

 

GonzagaNo. 5 Xavier vs. No. 12 Gonzaga (ESPN2/ESPN360.com, 10 p.m. ET Saturday): This one is in Seattle, a few hours and a mountain range removed from Gonzaga’s base in Spokane, Wash., but still a heck of a lot closer for it than for the team from Cincinnati. The logic for the seeds holding is pretty simple: Gonzaga is a good offensive team but not a great offensive team; it needs some volume to get its points, and Xavier is one of the toughest teams in the nation to get quality scoring chances against. That said, the Musketeers have not been at their defensive best in recent weeks — allowing 60 or more points in four of their past seven games. And a team prone to turnovers could be in trouble against a Bulldogs defense that forces more than 20 a game. Pick: Gonzaga

 

Tomorrow’s GU news today

Before sitting down to a relaxing dinner, I’ll post the unedited versions of the advance and notebook for the Gonzaga women’s matchup with No. 15 Pittsburgh in the NCAA Tournament that will appear in Monday’s.

Reflections on GU history

Before looking ahead to Gonzaga’s game against No. 15 Pittsburgh, a moment to reflect on the Bulldogs’ historic 78-53 win over No. 20 Xavier for their first win in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

1, Courtney Vandersloot: Re-enforced the notion the savvy playmaker is one of the best in the country.

2, Vivian Frieson: A tremendous athlete and consumate team player.

3, Team: Five beats one every time. Ta’Shia Phillips was great - as a friend used to say, “All that and a bag of chips” - but as a unit, Gonzaga was spectacular. No matter what happens against Pittsburgh, the vibe around this team revives memories of the 1999 GU men’s team, emphasis on team. The way a wide variety of players stepped up to hit shots, grab a rebound, make a stop, it was a total team effort by all 10 players.

4, Heather Bowman: The junior from Lewis and Clark has been a remarkable offensive force since she stepped on campus and an average defender. Although the 6-6 Phillips got hers (26 points, 18 rebounds), Bowman did a great defensive job. The Musketeers seemed so intent on getting her the ball, they forgot about the rest of their offense until they were down 13. Although Bowman had help, it’s not as if the Zags could ignore the other players - Frieson had burly 6-foot April Phillips (no relation) to contend with. Bowman really made T-Phillips work to get what she got and that made all the difference in the world. Her best game in a career of great games.

Keep reading for links and comments. And we’ll be back this evening after the afternoon press conferences for tomorrow night’s second round game.

Zags (women) make history

Gonzaga women’s basketball team won its first game game in the NCAA Tournament Saturday night. In just their second-ever appearance, the 12th-seeded Bulldogs were cool, calm and collected.

Rumor has it Spokane didn’t get to see the game from the opening tip, which led to a Janelle Bekkering 3 and the Zags never trailed.

Keep reading for the unedited version of the story, which may have missed deadline because of all kinds of difficulties - not of my making for a changae.

Mom leads GU women

There a few people who define student-athlete better than Gonzaga senior Jami (Bjorklund) Schaefer, the lead subject for today’s notebook from the NCAA women’s tournament in Seattle. It’s impossible not to get to know someone you’ve seen play since junior high and like anyone else who has gotten to know Jami, it’s been refreshing to see someone who has kept her life in perfect balance.

Again, here’s the link to the advance for tonight’s tournament opener against Xavier. The Seattle Times has an advance, capsules for tonight’s doubleheader that includes Montana and Pittsburgh, plus a feature on GU point guard Courtney Vandersloot.

There is also the Cincinnati Enquirer advance and notebook from the Xavier angle. A note about the notebook, Xavier hired the South Kitsap band to play tonight - and so did Pittsburgh so the band will change from Pitt t-shirts to Xavier t-shirts between games. Both those schools sent their pep bands with the men’s teams.