Preparing for Rio

I defend my dissertation in just a few weeks, so I am dipping my toe back into basketball blogging just in time for the Rio Olympics this summer!  I become a fan of so many sports during the Olympics- track and field, gymnastics, swimming, rowing (though I do follow the Warwick Rowers on Instagram because they are outspoken about LGBT inclusion in sport), volleyball (beach and indoor), wrestling (I managed my high school team and have a soft spot for the grapplers), and diving.  There is so much that divides us, but sports can be that thing that brings us together (like getting UNC fans to root on Coach K).

Team USA has released the Women’s roster and it is hard not to be excited to watch these athletes play!  There is so much talent collected on this team.  It is hard to see how Geno Auriemma could have put together a better squad.  #squadgoals

Of course, the best part about sports is that we all have ideas and can dialogue back and forth about the details.  Is the team UConn heavy? Yes, but those are the best players in the game right now.  Geno is good at his job and has built a powerhouse.  He is not killing the game and by the look of his work with in Team USA basketball he is cultivating coaches to rival him during the season.  There are blog posts to be had around UConn, women’s sports, and the game of basketball, but if you don’t bemoan the 44 point rout of the Sooners by the Villanova Wildcats in this final four in the same way that you want to blast the Huskies then we need to explore why.  Is it because their dominance is hurting the game?  Based on history, that just doesn’t hold up. John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won 10 titles in 12 seasons from 1964-1975, seven consecutively (1967-1973), and the game seems to be doing just fine.  But back to the task at hand…

Tamika Catchings is a perpetual face on the roster.  She graduated Tennessee in 2001 (the same year I finished undergrad) and is playing some great ball!  36 looks good y’all!

I am thrilled to see how Geno will make use of the talents of Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, and Breanna Stewart.  I loved watching these women play separately and together there may be some sort of superpower they can link together and unveil on the court- I imagine it is kind of like the Thundercats call!

To cull the team to 12 players, there will always be great talent left at home.  That said, there are two players I am missing.  I don’t know who’s place they could take and trust that the right decisions were made for Team USA basketball, but Candace Parker and Shoni Shimmel would be great additions to the field.  Parker will be part of the training camp and I’m not sure why Shimmel’s not here, but they deserve a mention.

The Olympics are coming up fast and I’m ready for all the basketball action!

Christmas comes early for some schools

It seems that upsets were in the air in college basketball tonight.

Stanford upset #9 Texas in OT.  After loosing to BYU last week, Stanford was looking for redemption and it happened to be wearing orange.  With a jump shot from the free throw line in the final seconds, Chasson Randle contributed 22 points and teammate Anthony Brown added 25 more.  Texas outshot Stanford 52% to 38% in second half, but Stanford stayed in the game with offensive rebounds and 9 second chance points to the Longhorns 0.  This is the first top ten win for Stanford since 2008.

In a shocking (to me at least, I’ve not had my eye on UNLV), the Running Rebels dethrone #3 Arizona from the realm of the unbeatens.  I would describe UNLV as inconsistent at best.  They have talent, but have had some eye catching losses.  It seemed to come together for them tonight as Arizona generally fell apart.  The Wildcats struggled all around with some of their starters in foul trouble.

Another OT surprise was #11 Wichita States 1 point win against Hawaii.  I watched the beginning of this game and had I known there would be 22 lead changes, 5 in OT alone, I’d have made more of an effort to stay awake.  I thought the Shockers had this one in the bag.  The final OT play, which looked really similar to their only loss to Utah last year, let them slip by Hawaii to meet George Washington in the final.

In Women’s news, congratulations to South Carolina for topping the AP poll for the fifth straight week.  The Gamecocks are ahead of traditional powerhouses UConn (2), Texas (3), and surprisingly Stanford (16).  This is the first time the Cardinal has been out of the top ten since 2009 and the lowest they have ranked since 2006 after two surprising losses to Tennessee and Chattanooga (go SoCon!).  Welcome Oregon State Lady Beavers (10); they have cracked the top ten for the first time in school history.  Always nice to see some new faces at the top!