Coquese Washington

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March Madness begins

 

 

Let’s be perfectly clear from the start — this and all subsequent columns are March Madness cliché-free. We won’t be talking about dancing or getting tickets punched here. The Gophers women basketball team plays Thursday in the 2014 Big Ten women’s tournament in Indianapolis — they face 11th-seeded Wisconsin at approximately 8 pm local time. Minnesota (19-11, 8-8 Big Ten) as the sixth seed goes into Indy on a modest two-game winning streak, but more importantly, especially for further post-season considerations, the Gophers have won seven of their last 11 contests. Although the team finished with a positive conference record for the first time since 2009, from now on U of M’s “second season” record must stay above .500. Continue Reading →

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College hoops still stuck on gender equity, racial diversity

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 →

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‘Under-the-radar’ rookies take their best shots

 

 

 

They haven’t as yet received attention similar to “The Big 3” WNBA rookies — Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne — but here are two other “under the radar” rookies who are also worth noting.  

Ta’Shauna Rodgers 

A first-round selection usually is a roster lock, but that’s not necessarily the case for players picked in later rounds. Once a projected first-rounder, Minnesota guard Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers was the 14th overall pick in the 2013 Draft. “I had to come in here and try out,” recalls the second-rounder. “When I made the team, I was excited. Continue Reading →

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Finally, parity in men’s college hoops

 

 

 

Can we say with all surety that parity was finally achieved this year in men’s college basketball? KFAN’s Henry Lake (HL) and Robert Littal (RL) of BlackSportsOnline recently shared their thoughts on this and this year’s cliché-filled NCAA tournament already in progress. (Please note: Lake and Littal’s comments were made prior to Sunday’s tournament selections.)

View: Was there indeed parity this season? HL: There always will be premier schools, but what I think is different this year is that some of those teams that we always penciled in as top seeds in the tournament essentially have taken a step back, [and] other teams have taken a step forward. I am not surprised that there is parity. Continue Reading →

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Penn State women’s basketball team the top seed in tourney

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Penn State will be the top overall seed in this week’s Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. The four-day conference tournament starts Thursday. It is the school’s sixth Big Ten regular season title and its first since 2003-04. It also is the first under Coquese Washington. “Last year we surprised people,” the fifth-year head coach said of the Lady Lions’ runners-up finish in the 2011 tourney. Continue Reading →

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WNBA off-season action slow

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Will the Minnesota Lynx re-sign Charde Houston, a restricted free agent? Nobody’s asking this question, which is typical among the local mainstream media who ignore WNBA off-season moves, but the veteran forward is among 21 restricted free agents around the league still unsigned for the 2012 season. Since Feb. 1, WNBA teams now can negotiate with their own “core” and “reserved” players, as well as “restricted” and “unrestricted” free agents. Minnesota already has re-upped both Taj McWilliams-Franklin (core) and Jessica Adair (reserved), and did a sign-and-trade with Alexis Hornbuckle and sent her to Phoenix Feb. Continue Reading →

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Time to dispense with the ‘One Plays’?

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

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 →

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Ex-Lynx All-Star one of few Black female head coaches

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Not counting HBCUs, there might be 20 Black women head coaches today in collegiate basketball among over 300 NCAA schools. “It’s tough,” admits Tonya Edwards. “I think as African American coaches have more success, it will open [doors] for a lot more.”

 

She easily lists such Black females as Penn State’s Coquese Washington, one of four Black women head coaches in the Big Ten, and Nikki Caldwell, who is in her first season at LSU after several successful seasons at UCLA. “And [Rutgers’s C. Vivian] Stringer always has done well,” adds Edwards, who’s in her fourth season as head coach at Alcorn State, of the legendary coach. Stringer, a Basketball Hall of Famer, has been a longtime advocate of more former Black female basketball players making the transition into coaching once their playing days conclude. Continue Reading →

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Three-point review of Gophers men’s and women’s basketball

 

 
 
By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer
 
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 →

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