Big Ten women’s basketball — not football — has been the most impacted sport ever since the conference first expanded in 1990. First, it was Penn State, then Nebraska in 2011, and now Maryland and Rutgers, who this summer officially became members. “This is a power conference,” declares Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer, the grande dame of Big Ten women’s hoops and women’s basketball’s winningest active coach. “Arguably, we are the best women’s basketball conference in the country,” says Nikita Lowry Dawkins, in her first year as Minnesota assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, in a recent MSR interview. She has both played (Ohio State,
1985-89) and coached in the conference (her alma mater and at Michigan). Continue Reading →
But there appears to be agreement on rule changes
College basketball is now off and running. Here are a couple of the least-discussed story lines:
Gender inequity in sports reigns supreme
ESPN next Monday (November 11) will hold its 24 hours of hoops. Once again the four-letter sports network, using three of its umpteen channels, will show only two women’s basketball games among its 18-game marathon coverage that starts at 6 pm Central next Monday and goes through next Tuesday. And although the two women’s games kick off the coverage, it remains a head scratcher that the self-appointed sports leader can’t or won’t find other female programs to show. After all, if ESPN can dedicate three channels to over 24 hours of live hoops, certainly, if they really were committed to women’s sports coverage besides the typical lip service, then what would it hurt to add a fourth channel for it? But when you ask the ESPN brain wizards about this like I did several years ago during a women’s basketball media conference call, they brushed my inquiries off like dandruff on a dark-colored sweater. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
If Bobbie Kelsey has her way, her Final Four consecutive appearance streak will stay intact. Her last four seasons she has sat on the Stanford bench as an assistant coach as the Cardinal women’s team twice played for a national title (2009 and 2010) and twice reached the semifinals (2008 and 2011). However, it’s a long shot that her new team will make it five in a row for Kelsey, who’s in her first season as Wisconsin head women’s basketball coach. She was named the school’s sixth-ever head coach last April, as well as U-W’s first Black female in this position. “Minnesota has a very talented group,” Kelsey told the MSR after her Badgers defeated the host Gophers on January 26. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
The Big Ten for several seasons has assembled 16-game regular-season schedules in which each team has six single-game opponents each year. Minnesota, for example, only plays Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern once each this season. Now that the conference has 12 teams, one would think a return to a round-robin league schedule — each Big Ten squad plays its opponent twice (once home and once away) — is in the near future. The MSR last week asked Indiana Coach Felisha Legette-Jack if it’s time to do away with the league’s “One Plays” format.
“I’m totally optimistic that they [conference schedulers] are going to get it right this time,” she opined after her Hoosiers completed their one-game slate with the Gophers, losing 84-43 to the hosts.
Colorful present and past
Overall there have been 23 Black head basketball coaches in the Big Ten, 13 males and 10 females. Continue Reading →
By Charles Hallman
A seven-game review of Minnesota women’s basketball at this point of the season yields the following three points:
First point: Billed before the season as the missing piece, Rachel Banham thus far seemingly has made a smoother transition as freshman starting point guard than her male counterpart Andre Hollins (more on him later). “I think she’s doing a great job getting a feel of things, and she’s playing a lot of minutes. She’s really pushing tempo and keeping our team playing fast,” surmises Coach Pam Borton. Second point: Will junior Leah Cotton ever play “unplugged”? Yes, she makes mistakes (i.e., silly fouls), but often makes up for it with hustle and ball hawking on defense. Continue Reading →