Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from the BasketCases!

As our longtime readers know, the BasketCases are very fond of champagne. [You can find some prior New Year's thoughts from us about this very special wine here and here.] Today, we just wanted to share with you one of our favorite photos . . . one that always brings back the happy memory of walking into a very tiny neighborhood market in Paris and seeing this marvelous display: a shelf of champagne, a shelf of Tropicana, a shelf of other beverages.

It's not the sort of thing you're likely to find at any mini-mart here in the USA. Apart from laws in some states that prohibit grocery stores from selling wine (Maryland!), what struck us about this display was not just the presence of champagne in the store, but the quality of those bottles above the orange juice -- they give new meaning to the phrase "top shelf." Double click to enlarge the photo if you need to, but that's no 7-11 swill for sale up there. The bottle on the far left is Dom Perignon. Among the other bottles are champagnes from the major houses of Veuve Clicquot and Laurent-Perrier. Would that the shelves of our local mini-mart looked like this!

And if you're thinking -- champagne, orange juice -- we can make mimosas! Think again. It would be a sacrilege to mix that Tropicana (or any OJ) with those champagnes! (Okay, the Mercier is an exception. Sold only in France . . . thank goodness! That's one champagne that could definitely be improved by adding some orange juice.)

In any event, and as always, whatever it is you're drinking (or not drinking) tonight, we wish all our loyal readers a very happy, healthy, safe -- and sparkling -- New Year!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And Then There Were Seven

When the Mississippi State Bulldogs started the championship game of the Terrapin Classic this afternoon, they were one of only 8 undefeated teams in the country. But thanks to Maryland, that number won't be more than 7 by the end of today. The Terps began this afternoon's game much as they had left off yesterday, playing good, solid, team basketball, and were comfortably ahead at the break, 43-28. In the second half, however, the Terps' offense sputtered and stalled, and the Bulldogs clawed back to within single digits. However, Maryland managed to hang on for the victory, 80-73.

Kristi Toliver, perhaps making up for missing yesterday's game, played all of this one. She also posted a team-high 24 points, and dished out 8 assists. As they did yesterday, Dee Liles and Marah Strickland turned in impressive performances, each scoring 16 points. Dee (whose athleticism just continues to amaze us) and Big Strick were the only Terps named to the All-Tournament team, and Dee also came away with the MVP trophy. Congrats to both of them!

And congrats also to the Wheaton Dance Twirl Team, the fantastic baton twirling team who performed at halftime today. They'll be heading to Europe soon to represent the USA in the World Championships. They really were remarkable; it takes a lot to make the BasketCases stay in our seats during the break, but these talented young women had us glued to our chairs. (Memo to the Mystics Front Office: book them for next season!)

The Terps now have three days off to enjoy New Year's before they travel to the capital of the Confederacy on Saturday to take on the Richmond Spiders at 3 PM. We'll be making that trip too, as will many other Maryland fans, so be sure to check back here later that night for our in-person report. In the meantime, don't forget to have some champagne chillin' in your fridge for tomorrow night!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Again

The Terps last played a game at Comcast Center 36 days ago. Far too long to be gone! Thankfully, the team returned home today to host the annual Terrapin Classic, which kicked off with a double header starting at noon.

In the opening match, Mississippi State corralled the Thundering Herd of Marshall University, 73-65, to remain unbeaten this season with an 11-0 record. Then it was the Terps' turn to take the floor against UNC-Asheville. In the first half, Maryland showed some noticeable holiday-break rust, allowing the Bulldogs to stay in the game much longer than they should have. But in the second half, the Terps found their rhythm, posting a decisive 90-57 victory.

It was wonderful to see Marah Strickland back on the floor today. Big Strick's absence from the trip to ODU did not seem to have affected her at all, as she shot a game-high (and career high!) 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Lynetta Kizer wasn't far behind, posting 18 points.

Though Marah was back, Maryland still wasn't at full strength, as Kristi Toliver watched today's game from the bench, serving a one-game suspension for violating a team rule. After the game, Kristi also had to write "I must not disobey team rules" 100 times on the whiteboard in the locker room (uhh, just kidding).

The Terps weren't the only ones who were home again today, as a couple of former Maryland stars -- now WNBA players -- were back in the good old USA. Yes, Lang and Harp decided to take in today's game, courtside.

And so did recent Maryland graduate and former Terp standout Jade Perry, who also joined in some time-out fun with the fans. The BasketCases send Jade a big congratulations on earning her degree.

It wasn't particularly surprising to see several former Maryland stars in the house, but we were totally surprised to see a non-Terp star at today's game. And, not just any star, but (in the BasketCases' opinion) one of of the greatest basketball players ever . . . Chamique Holdsclaw! We -- and several other Mystics fans -- had the pleasure of speaking with Chamique at halftime. She looked great (as you can see), seemed relaxed and happy, and very eager to be back in the WNBA next summer. As we all told her, we can't wait to see her play again! (And we won't have to wait long once the WNBA season starts, since Chamique's new team, Atlanta, is playing the Mystics right here at the Phone Booth in the Mystics' home opener on Sunday, June 7.)

* * * * *
The second half of the Terrapin Classic tips off tomorrow, Tuesday, at noon, when UNC-Asheville plays the Thundering Herd (we love that name!). Following that game, the Terps will meet Mississippi State, which as of today was one of only 8 undefeated teams in the country. Let's hope that by about 4 PM tomorrow, that number will be down to 7!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Saturday, December 27, 2008

M.C.'s M.C. Read it here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On Cloud Nine. The annual Nike Tournament of Champions, an invitational tournament for the top 100+ high school teams in the country, just concluded in Chandler, Arizona. In the top-talent division, Bolingbrook (IL) met Cardinal O'Hara (PA) in the championship final. And the winner of this year's prestigious tournament? Cardinal O'Hara!

Are you asking yourself, as we did, why that name sounds familiar? Well, just last Friday, we linked to a feature by Matt Bracken of the Baltimore Sun introducing new Maryland commit Natasha Cloud. And what team does Natasha play for? The answer is: Cardinal O'Hara!

Jim Halley of USA Today reports that during the championship game, when Bolingbrook double-teamed Cardinal O'Hara Center Stephanie Holzer,

O'Hara countered with a box-and-one on the athletic (Freshman Center) Tuck, with Natasha Cloud trailing her every move, and Tuck was held to eight points.

"The box-and-one kind of took us out of our rhythm," Bolingbrook coach Tony Smith said. "And by the time we adjusted, we were down 10 points to a good team."

It wasn't the first time Cloud, a junior, has had to stop a big scorer. She helped defend last year against Ursuline (Wilmington, Del.) center Elena DelleDonne, the 2008 USA TODAY player of the year.
Congratulations to Natasha, her coaches and her teammates on their very big win! As Maryland fans, we're very exited that the next stop after high school for this defensive stopper is none other than College Park 2010.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Heading Home

For the second time in four days, the Old Dominion Monarchs played a very tight, competitive game against a ranked team. Fortunately for our Terps, however, the Monarchs came up short once again, as Maryland escaped from the Constant Convocation Center this afternoon with a good road win, 74-65. The game was closer than the final score.

Four of Maryland's starters finished in double figures, led by Dee Liles' 20 points. Dee just missed out on a double-double, with 9 boards, but Marissa Coleman, who seemed to be everywhere, hit the double-double mark once again this season (16 pts, 13 rbs). KT added 19 points (and 5 assists), and Lynetta Kizer finished with 10 points (and 9 boards).

Today's contest was the first for the Terps since December 9, and the one place where the layoff showed was at the foul line, as Maryland hit only 26 of 39 free throws.

Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood started today's game in place of the absent Marah Strickland. (The TV announcers said that Marah had a family emergency. A reader put up a comment on our post below stating that Marah has left the program. Obviously, that's unconfirmed. Whatever may be going on, the BasketCases certainly hope that all is well with Marah and her family.)

After today's game, the players are heading to their homes for the holidays. And when they return, the Terps will finally be heading home to Comcast, where they haven't played since before Thanksgiving! Next up: the annual Terrapin Classic, starting Monday, December 29. The Mississippi State Bulldogs meet the Marshall Thundering Herd (we just love that name!) in the lunch-hour special (12 noon start time) and Maryland faces the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs following that game (around 2 PM). We can't wait!

Back in Action

The Terps, who have not played at Comcast since November 23, and not at all since December 9, wind up their extended road trip in southeastern Virginia today, as they take on Old Dominion in Norfolk at 1 PM. While Maryland could be a little rusty, the Monarchs are coming off a very close loss to the Lady Vols on Thursday night. Wendy Larry's team is always tough at home, and until the loss to Tennessee, the Monarchs had held a 29-game home winning streak, tied for first in the nation.

This afternoon's game is a homecoming for Maryland's Kim Rodgers, who grew up in the Hampton Roads area. Vicki Friedman in today's Virginian-Pilot has a very nice article about Kim, her decision to attend Maryland, and her delayed debut as a college player due to injury and illness. (But someone please tell Vicki that Kristi Toliver's famous three-pointer did not win the Natty for Maryland in overtime.)

If your travel plans aren't taking you to Norfolk today, you should be able to watch the game on Comcast SportsNet, or listen via the Terps' web site.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Morning. There's an article well worth reading in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Chamique Holdsclaw's decision to return to the WNBA. You can find it here.

Yesterday, the WNBA released its schedule for the 2009 season. The Mystics open on the road at Connecticut on June 6th, and the following day (Sunday, June 7th . . . mark your calendar!) they play their home opener against Chamique Holdsclaw and the Atlanta Dream.

In the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, Matt Bracken reported on the recent decision by high school junior combo guard Natasha Cloud to commit to Maryland. Welcome, Natasha!

And don't forget that this evening you have an opportunity to scout a couple of WNBA prospects when Auburn plays at GW (game time is 7:3o PM). Players to watch: Jessica Adair and DeWanna Bonner.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Star Returns!

(No, not to Washington.)

The Atlanta Dream announced this afternoon that they have traded the 13th pick in the 2009 draft to the LA Sparks in return for the rights to Chamique Holdsclaw. From her quote in the Dream's press release, Mique seems quite happy about this turn of events:

“Coming back has been something that I have been thinking about for a while. The only thing that was holding me back was my body and being healthy. I realized that if I had the chance I would like to play this summer.”

Holdsclaw is by far one of the greatest to ever have played the game. Watching her, when she was a member of the Mystics, was magical! Yes, she'll be a tough opponent, but the BasketCases can't wait to see her play again in the WNBA.

Welcome back, Mique!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Future on Parade

One of the BasketCases' favorite things about living here in the National Capital area is that every year we have the opportunity to see so many college basketball stars . . . without having to travel far from home. Great teams and great players parade through here every winter. And if you're a WNBA fan, this is also a terrific place to check out some future pros! This season, with the Mystics having the #2 pick in April's College Draft (along with four other picks), we have a special reason to scout the college talent.

The conferences represented by college teams in the DC area include not only the ACC, but also the Big East, the A-10, the CAC and others. As a result, thanks to our home teams and their opponents, those of us lucky enough to live here get to see quite a few of the best college players in the country, many of whom are likely future WNBA stars.

This college season is no exception. As we've been poring over the schedules of the local schools, it's clear that, without stretching our travel budget, in the next few months we'll have the chance to see many of the college seniors who are WNBA prospects, including a number who are likely to be selected in the first round of next April's draft. In fact, except for Oklahoma's Paris twins, it appears that just about all of the likely top draftees can be seen here this season.

First, of course, there are our home girls, Maryland's Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman, who, barring-injury-or-disaster, are slam dunk WNBA first-rounders. And, thanks to the tough schedule played by the Terps, a number of other top pro prospects will also make their way onto the court at Comcast this season. Another home girl, 6'4" Senior C/F Jessica Adair, who plays (with her twin!) for George Washington in the Atlantic-10 Conference, is a preseason Wooden Award candidate and, quite possibly, a future WNBA'er. And while the Georgetown Hoyas may not have any seniors this season likely to turn pro, their membership in the Big East does mean that a lot of really good teams do come through the doors of McDonough.

So, mark your calendars now with the BasketCases' Scouting the Seniors list:

Friday, December 19, 2008: Auburn at GW. Take a break from holiday shopping and head on over to the Smith Center for this pre-conference matchup, your chance to see Jessica Adair and Auburn's 6' 4" guard DeWanna Bonner. DeWanna may not exactly be a household name, but if she turns up in the WNBA next summer, remember that you heard of her here first!

Saturday, January 17, 2009: Louisville at Georgetown. This is your chance not only to come out and say hi to former Maryland Associate Head Coach, now Cardinals Head Coach, Jeff Walz, but also to watch Jeff's superstar, Angel McCoughtry, a 6'1" Forward who many are projecting to be the overall #1 pick in next April's draft.

Sunday, January 25, 2009: UNC at Maryland. Comcast will be packed for this matchup between these two ACC foes, and those in attendance will get to see the Heels' senior, Rashanda McCants (yes, little sister of Rashad), not to mention, of course, KT and Marissa.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009: Pittsburgh at Georgetown. The Panthers not only have one of the most likeable coaches around in hug-meister Agnus Berenato, they also have Shavonte Zellous. Maryland fans already know (unfortunately!) how talented this young lady is. It's not easy to forget the 26 points she put up on the Terps in Pittsburgh last Sunday. We think it'll be worth heading over to McDonough to see her play in person.

Saturday, January 31, 2009: Connecticut at Georgetown. The Big East's UConn Huskies only play the Hoyas here in alternating years, so this is the DC-area's every-other-year chance to see the country's currently (unanimous!) #1 ranked team in person. This season WNBA fans can get an up-close look at Huskies' senior, Renee Montgomery (who, like KT, could be in the running to fill the 1-spot for the point-guard-challenged Mystics).

Thursday, February 12, 2009: Virginia at Maryland. The Cavaliers played close games against the Terps last season, and we don't expect that to be any different this year, thanks in part to UVA senior Aisha Mohammed (and senior Lyndra Lyttles, if she's academically eligible for the second semester). Both are possible future pros.

Sunday, February 15, 2009: Rutgers at Maryland. While the Scarlet Knights will not be playing at Big East rival Georgetown this season, they will be playing at Comcast in a non-conference (ESPN2) match-up, giving us all an opportunity to scout 6'4" Center Kia Vaughn.

Sunday, February 22, 2009: Duke at Maryland. As Terps fans already know, the Blue Devils have two seniors on their roster who are pro prospects, Chante Black and Abby Waner.

The players we've highlighted are just the seniors. But there are are plenty of other student-athletes on these and other teams, soon to be strutting their stuff in our area, who will likely wind up making a living playing basketball after they graduate. (Can you spell Maya Moore?) And you can catch them this winter, right here. There's really no better place to live if you're a basketball fan!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Is Kind of Spooky

Last night, the Terps beat the Loyola Greyhounds by 31 points, 83-52. Marissa Coleman bounced back from her subpar outing in Pittsburgh to lead Maryland with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Kim Rodgers (red shirt last season and mono earlier this year) had a perfect debut in her first ever appearance for Maryland, hitting all 4 of her 3 point attempts and both of her free throws! Lynetta Kizer also recorded a double-double (15 pts, 11 rebounds) and Dee Liles added 17 points to Maryland's total.

Speaking of totals, here's the really spooky part: if you add Maryland's margin of victory (31) to the number of the draft pick (2) that the Mystics secured in yesterday's 2009 Draft Lottery , you get 33. And if you add up the four numbers from the ping pong ball combination that won the Atlanta Dream the right to pick first in the draft (9-11-1-12), the total is 33. And then if you add all the numbers from the ping pong ball combination that won the Mystics the right to pick second (14-7-10-2) the total is 33 again! And, finally, if you add all the numbers from the ping pong balls that got Chicago the 3rd pick (12-9-4-8) . . . 33! Is it just us, or is this just a little too much of a coincidence? Spooky!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Ping Pong Balls have spoken . . .

The Mystics will pick 2nd in the 2009 College Draft!

The #1 pick went to the Atlanta Dream.

For Mystics GM Angela Taylor's reaction to the news . . . read her Pass the Ball blog!

Tuesday Morning, Afternoon & Evening . . .

This morning both Katie Carrera of the Washington Post and Mike Fratto of the Times have stories about the Mystics' dispersal draft selection of Houston's Matee Ajavon here and here. As in her blog post yesterday, Katie emphasizes that the choice of Ajavon adds a fifth "shooting guard" to the Mystics' roster. What Katie doesn't ponder is whether all five of those guards will actually be in Mystics blue when the 2009 season rolls around. Mike, on the other hand, sees Ajavon as adding "depth to [the Mystics'] backcourt."

This afternoon, part two of this big offseason week for the WNBA takes place at 3PM when the league holds the 2009 Draft Lottery. Yesterday, Adam Hirshfield of the league office "live blogged" the dispersal draft, and expects to do the same for the lottery today. So if you can't wait a moment longer to find out how the ping pong balls fall for the Mystics, keep an eye out on at 3PM for Adam's blog.

And this evening, the Terps will be making the relatively short trip from College Park to Baltimore to take on the Greyhounds of Loyola of Maryland at 7PM . . . and no doubt they will be trying to bounce back from their disappointing showing at Pitt on Sunday. There should be plenty of loyal Terps fans in the stands tonight to help cheer them on to victory (we hope). But for other fans, including the BasketCases, who won't be able to leave work early enough to get through the traffic nightmare from Washington to North Baltimore during rush hour, you'll be able to listen live here.

A full day!

Monday, December 08, 2008

With the Second Pick in the 2008 Dispersal Draft, the Washington Mystics select . . .

Matee Ajavon.

Welcome, Matee!

P.S. #1 is already taken, but #22 is still available.

Feeling a Draft?

We certainly are. It may be the off season for the WNBA, but two critical events are taking place today and tomorrow.

First, at 1:00 PM ET this afternoon, the league will hold a dispersal draft to distribute the players on the now defunct Houston Comets. According to the WNBA, "the order of selection will be based on the inverse of order of 2008 regular season finish," which is a charitably euphemistic way of saying that the worst teams pick first. So we guess you could say the Mystics picked a "good" season to finish second to last. But in case you're seeing visions of Tina Thompson or Michelle Snow --- in a Mystics uniform -- we have one word for you: fugetaboutit! It turns out that many of the most desirable players on the Comets are unrestricted free agents this season (including both Tina and Michelle) and, therefore, will not be available in the dispersal draft. So the Mystics will be picking second this afternoon from the best of the rest.

Most observers think that the top two picks will be Sancho Lyttle and Matee Ajavon. If Atlanta GM/Head Coach Marynell Meadors takes Lyttle, don't be surprised if Mystics GM Angela Taylor makes her first player personnel decision by selecting Ajavon, a second year guard (well known to Terps fans) out of Rutgers. Of course, draft days are anything but predictable, so it isn't over til it's over. As a matter of fact, in his blog post last Thursday, Mystics COO Greg Bibb mentioned the possibility of a trade. So we'll be following this afternoon to find out who exactly will be joining the Mystics.

Then tomorrow (Tuesday) there's more excitement in store for Mystics fans. At 3 PM ET the league will hold the lottery to determine the order of selection for next April's 2009 College Draft. Unlike the dispersal draft, the draft lottery is a fairly complicated affair, so the BasketCases have invited a famous mathemetician, Dr. Charlie Eppes, to help explain it all to us.

BC: Dr. Eppes, thanks so much for taking time away from your teaching and busy FBI consulting work to visit the BasketCases blog.

Eppes: Please call me Charlie. It's my pleasure to be here. Amita and I are big fans of the WNBA. We have season tickets for the Sparks. So, how may I help?

BC: Well, let's start with the basics. Just what is it that will be decided tomorrow?

Eppes: That's easy. The five teams that finished out of the playoffs last season will all be participating in the draft lottery, which will determine the order in which they will pick in the 2009 college draft. Now, it's a common misconception that the ping pong balls will actually determine which teams have the first five picks. This isn't true. The ping pong balls only determine which teams pick first, second, and third. The two remaining picks -- the 4th and 5th picks -- are then determined by inverse order of finish last season.

BC: What does that mean for the Mystics?

Eppes: Well, there's actually a savings clause to be sure the teams that need the most help are not too disadvantaged if the ping pong balls don't pop up according to statistical probability. When that unlikely event occurs, and one of the teams that finished among the bottom three this past season doesn't get one of the first three picks in the lottery, it will automatically get the 4th pick. So, for example, if the Mystics, who finished next to last, don't get one of the first three lottery picks, they will automatically get the 4th pick, unless Atlanta didn't get one of the first three picks either, in which case the Dream will get the 4th pick and the Mystics will get the 5th pick. That's pretty clear, isn't it?

BC: Clear as the Economic Recovery Package. So how exactly does the ping pong ball lottery work?

Eppes: Okay, this is the really fun part. The league uses 14 ping pong balls, numbered 1 to 14, a very original concept. They put them in the hopper, mix them up, and randomly select four balls. Did you know that when you draw out 4 balls like this, there are 1,001 different combinations? No? Well, trust me, there are. Anyway, the league has taken 1,000 of those different combinations and assigned them to the five teams in the lottery. The worse you finished last season, the more combinations you get, and thus the more chances of getting the first pick in the draft. Once the first four ping pong balls are drawn, the team with that particular combination of four numbers gets the first pick. Atlanta has 420 of the 1,000 combinations, and the Mystics have 261, which means that D.C. has 261 chances out of 1,000 to get the first draft pick. However it's important to keep in mind that each of the 1,001 combinations has an equal chance of being selected. So having the most combinations by no means guarantees the top pick! Then, after the four balls are drawn to determine the first pick, they're put back in, re-mixed, and the second and third draft picks are determined the same way.

BC: What about that unassigned 1,001st combination? What if that combination of four balls is actually picked?

Eppes: Well then, the league uses the following algorithm to calculate the trajectory necessary to launch the unassigned ping pong ball combination into outer space: PBS = Σ(i=1,7) Ai cos [ (0.985626° ΔtJ2000 / τi) + φi].

BC: Oh, we didn't know that. Well, this is a pretty important event. Dr. Eppes, we mean Charlie, do you know if the lottery is being broadcast or web cast for the fans?

Eppes: No it isn't. It's being done from the league's offices, with the results being announced to the teams via conference call. So, as I understand it, no one can actually see the ping pong balls being selected except the league officials. However, once the lottery is concluded, I plan to compare the results to predictable statistical outcomes using a unique algorithm I've developed just for this occasion, in order to satisfy myself, the FBI and WNBA fans everywhere, that the lottery was conducted on the up and up.

BC: Well, thank goodness for that. And thank you Dr., uh Charlie, for all your help.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Bus Not Taken . . .

At the beginning of the season, when the Rebounders announced their schedule for bus trips, today's game at Pitt was among them. Being the fanatics that we are, we actually signed up to spend about 10 hours round trip on a bus in order to see this game in person and support the Terps. As it turned out, however, not enough other people signed up, and so the trip was cancelled. At the time of the cancellation, we were disappointed. But now, all we can say is thank goodness! About the only thing that would have been worse than watching this afternoon's humiliating defeat of the Terps by Pitt (86-57. . .ouch!) in person would have been sitting on a bus right now facing a five hour trip home.

The game started much like many other games, pretty close, with the teams alternating runs. At the half, Maryland was down . . . but not by much, 32-39. However, the second half was all Pitt, all the time.

So congratulations to the Panthers for what Coach Berenato, in her post-game remarks to the Pitt crowd, called "The biggest win in the history of our program." As for the Terps, well, there's obviously much work still to be done.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday Stuff . . .

First, the WNBA: Michael Wilbon (usually not "Mr. Sensitivity" when it comes to women's sports . . .the BasketCases cannot forget -- or forgive -- his trashing of Chamique Holdsclaw) has a very long -- and sensitive -- piece in today's Washington Post (Sports Section, page 1!) about the demise of the Houston Comets. Apparently, he was paying some attention all those years.

Now turning to college: the Terps trek to Pittsburgh tomorrow (Sunday) to complete the back end of a home and home series against the Big East's Pitt Panthers at 2 PM. The Panthers are currently on a 5-game winning streak, after losing their season opener to #4 Texas A&M by just 6 points. As we mentioned in an earlier post, 5'10" athletic senior guard Shavonte Zellous (currently averaging more than 20 ppg) is widely touted as a WBNA first round prospect and could pose a serious match-up problem for the Terps. For the second game in a row, Maryland will be facing a tough opponent -- on the road. Once again, they will need to prove they truly are road warriors if they are going to leave Pittsburgh with a win.

And for those planning to listen to an audio broadcast of tomorrow's game, we have some very good news (thanks to Maryland -- yes you, Jen -- for the tip!): you should be able to watch the game (free!) via the Internet by going to the Pitt web site here and clicking on "watch" (how hard is that?) in the box for this game. That will bring up a window requiring you to download Microsoft Silverlight in order to see the web cast. We've just done it; it took just a few moments. Easy! So, get ready; do it now! And let's hope when game time arrives, it actually works!

And if it does work, then you can play the BasketCases Drinking Game (Diet Coke for us . . . it's a 2 PM game!). The rules are simple: every time Pitt Head Coach Agnus Berenato hugs somebody, take a drink! Agnus is known as the hugging-est coach in all of basketball . . . she hugs opposing coaches, officials, fans, players, ushers, mascots, cheerleaders, hot dog vendors, and even every member of the press corps at post-game press conferences! She's a veritable hugging-dervish . . . so we've stocked an entire six-pack of Diet Coke in the fridge. OK, Agnus . . . Ready, Set, Hug!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Taking It On the Road

The Terps traveled tonight to Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana, where nearly 11,000 Purdue fans, plus the #20 ranked Boilermaker team did everything possible to upset the #11 ranked Terps. But Maryland's "road warriors" prevailed, 70-59. Don't let the final score fool you. As Camille Powell reports in her Washington Post article (Sports Section, page 1!), this was a very closely contested game.

After the opening tip-off, the Terps raced out to a 9-2 lead. (They were probably PO'd because most of the Maryland starters' names were misspelled in the Big Ten Network pregame intro.) But, as often happens, their opponent regrouped and Maryland lost focus. Halftime score: 28-25 in favor of Purdue. Without the outstanding first half play by "Big Strick" and Dee Liles, the margin would have been even wider.

We don't know what was said in the locker room at half-time, but it clearly was what the team needed to hear, as Maryland played with more intensity on both ends of the floor after the break. And, down the stretch, senior starters Kristi and Marissa -- who each played the entire game -- took over and led the team to a BIG road win. Defeating a ranked team in a hostile arena says a lot about how far the Terps have come since that season opening loss at TCU.

Also tonight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Duke beat unranked Iowa, 71-47. (Hey, who decided these pairings, anyway?) And Clemson pulled out a win over Northwestern in overtime, 78-75. So right now, it's ACC 6, Big Ten 0, with 3 games in progress as we write this.


Results Update: In the the second half of the Big Ten Network double-header, Debbie Ryan's Cavs destroyed Jolette Law's Illini, as UVA coasted to a 63-39 win. Unfortunately, the other two ACC teams didn't fare as well: Boston College lost to the Golden Gophers (we love that name!) of Minnesota, 80-60; and Wisconsin held on to beat the Hokies, 61-52. So, at the end of Day 2 of the Challenge: ACC 7, Big Ten 2.

The inter-conference series wraps up Friday evening when NC State travels to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines (TV: Big Ten Network at 6:30 PM). And at 7 PM, Miami hosts Indiana for the final game of the 2008 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. At this point, these games are just for pride -- with 7 wins, the ACC has already won the 2008 Challenge. The Series now stands: ACC 2, Big Ten 0. Way to go, ACC!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Second Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicked off today with the unranked Georgia Tech Yellowjackets knocking off the #21 ranked Michigan State Spartans, 70-57. ACC 1, Big Ten 0.

Right now, as we're writing, we're also watching the UNC Heels vs the Ohio State Buckeyes (UNC leads 41-37 at the half) on the Big Ten Network.

We LOVE the Big Ten Network! Why? Because last season our cable provider didn't carry it, and now they do. And that means that tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 PM, if we tune in (and we will) to the BTN, we'll get to see Maryland play at Purdue . . . in HD! Is this a great network, or what? And when that game concludes, the Cavs face the Illini in the second half of tomorrow's BTN double-header. Plus, on Friday at 6:30 PM, BTN is broadcasting the Wolfpack vs Michigan. Didn't we say this was great?

[If, unfortunately, you don't get BTN, you can still listen to the Terps' game and follow it on Gametracker. The links are here.]

Results Update: The Heels beat the Buckeyes, 72-63 and Florida State beat Penn State, 73-60. ACC 3, Big Ten 0.

News Update: The front page of Thursday's Washington Post Sports Section has an article by Camille Powell about Maryland's Road Warriors (to be). And, has a second (don't miss!) installment of Marissa's blog . . . all about the Terps' trip to Cancun. (Note to Riss: would have "gone," not "went".)

Monday, December 01, 2008


WNBA President Donna Orender announced this evening that the Houston Comets franchise is being disbanded.

Houston's former owner turned the team back to the league midway through last season. The WNBA league office has been operating the Comets since that time. Efforts to find a new owner for the team have been unsuccessful.

The BasketCases wrote about Houston's predicament earlier this year. Unfortunately, our fear that this storied franchise might disappear has, indeed, come true. We feel sick. The Comets were everything the Mystics and many other teams aspired to be. The players who've worn Comets red include some of the greatest stars of women's basketball: Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompon . . . and the late, courageous Kim Perrot.

What else can we say, except that this news sucks.

Next Monday, the WNBA will hold a dispersal draft, sending Houston's current players to other teams. When that draft is completed, the Houston Comets will, officially, be gone.

Tuesday Morning Update:'s (and BasketCases' pal) Mechelle Voepel weighs in on the Comets demise and what this means (or doesn't mean) for the future of the WNBA. Link here.