2015 Women’s Basketball All-Superheroine Team

Heroine_hoopsThere are awards for All-American athletes and awards for All-Academic, but what about for both? That’s what the NC2A Nerd All-Superhero or in this case all Superheroine team is about. Here are the criteria.

1: Make the conference all-academic team.
2: Make the all-conference team.
3: Play on a team with at least a winning record with preference for conference champions and deep tourney runs.
4: No freshmen allowed with preference for seniors.
5: Only one player per team. This means UConn can’t have five on this list.
Here are my top 12 Superheorines of the 2014-15 women’s basketball season.

Easier to say what she has not accomplished at UConn. Stewart has won two straight Naismith Trophies and the same with AP Player of the Year. Making the American Athletic Conference’s Academic team is pretty easy as anyone with a 3.0 GPA gets in but she did it. Oh, I almost forgot, she has won three national titles in three years.

Elizabeth Williams2. Duke: Elizabeth Williams
Made the ACC Academic team with and earned a remarkable four straight selections to All-ACC team. Williams also won the Kay Vow Scholar Athlete of the year award and helped the Blue Devils to a Sweet 16 appearance.

Ruth Hamblin3. Oregon State: Ruth Hamblin
Making the PAC-12 Academic team is hard as the conference only recognizes 10. Enter Hamblin, who earned a 3.86 GPA in medical engineering while leading the Beavers. On the court, Hamblin earned PAC-12 player of the year with 13 points and 9 rebounds a game. She made it while also being on the All-PAC-12 squad.

4. Princeton: Blake Dietrick Princeton Blake Dietrick
Best player on an undefeated Ivy League team. What more can you say? Dietrick was the engine to the offense as she led the Tigers in points and assists.

SamanthaLogicIowa5. Iowa: Samantha Logic
Fought it out with teammate Ally Disterhoft for this spot but she got it with her first team All-Big Ten selection. Helped propel the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16 and earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball coaches Association All-American team. Logic also made the Capital One Academic All-American team.

Now to the reserves…

6. Maryland: Lexie Brown Lexie Brown
Have Lexie Brown just edging out her teammate Brionna Jones. Brown led the Terps to a Final Four and made the All-Big 10 team with academic accolades to go on with it.

7. Pittsburgh: Brianna KieselBrianna Kiesel
Kiesel has made multiple ACC-Academic teams while at Pittsburgh and the senior guard made the All-ACC team thanks to 18.5 points per game.

Hoover, Andrea 2014-15 cropped8. Dayton: Andrea Hoover
Made the A-10 honor roll while helping her team to the Elite Eight. Hoover also competed well in the national 3-point contest as she shot a ridiculous 45 percent from beyond the arc.

Sunny Greinacher9. Gonzaga: Sunny Greinacher
Greinacher is a graduate student who earned a 3.52 GPA while pursuing her masters in counseling. She also led to the Zags on a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 with 14 points per game. Greinacher just beat out teammate Elle Tinkle for this spot.

stafford_imani_201410. Texas: Imani McGee-Stafford
McGee-Stafford made the Big-12 Academic team majoring in accounting and made the All-Big 12 team despite missing games due to injury. She helped Texas to the Sweet 16 with a surprise upset of California in the round of 32 thanks to her double-double in that game.


An open letter to Coach John Calipari

Dear Coach John Calipari,DSC_1224

I know you don’t need another guy in the media (or loser blogger) telling you what to do. You’re tired of it I’m sure, or have developed the ability to not give a bleeping Saul Smith about what others think of you. Probably a bit of both.
You’ve done everything reasonable Kentucky fans (I’m one of the 15 percent) could have hoped for since your hire and so much more.

There’s nothing more for you to prove at Kentucky.

Please, go to the NBA.

It’s not just the best choice for yourself; it’s the best choice for Kentucky fans. Other friends I have in Big Blue Nation were not enjoying Kentucky games this year. Despite all the winning, any tight contest for the Cats turned into agony for the Commonwealth. Making it worse, all the winning made 49 states angry at our Cats and our fans.

Losing to Wisconsin was disappointing. Perhaps even worth shedding a tear or starting small fires. Wish I was joking about that last part. The Wisconsin loss though provided Kentucky faithful something else.


Relief that we no longer have to sit through a game as if all the furniture in our homes are made of eggshells. Relief that fans will no longer have to defend their favorite team to other fan bases who just want to see them fail. Relief that we no longer have to listen to commentators make a big deal about Kentucky struggling during the course of a game as if it were a supernatural miracle. Relief that we no longer have to hear talking heads rant about how “insert school name here” can beat the Cats. Relief from those saying “the SEC is weak” when winning on the road in any league is challenging.

Kentucky was the only team networks promoted because they knew it was the only team they knew would drum up interest. Kentucky or the field was a serious question because no one cared who the field was. Sure, there were candidates but the “who” never mattered. It was only the “when,” and the “if.”

Coach Cal, your team wasn’t a part of the college basketball season. Your team WAS the college basketball season.
It’s hard to think back to when that wasn’t the case. So I looked back at your introductory press conference you had in 2009. It was six years ago but you look over a decade younger then.

Everything you hoped to do back then you completed.

You got talent to come to Lexington.
You achieved No. 1 rankings and 1 seeds.
You took Kentucky to multiple Final Fours.
You added to the championship banners.
And of course, you proved everyone wrong. This includes skeptics like myself.

Skeptics that thought all of the tournament banners you won at Kentucky would eventually be vacated.
Skeptics that thought you would fail to coach toe-to-toe with the best in clutch situations.
Skeptics that thought you could not win a championship with the bulk of the roster being freshmen.
Skeptics that thought you could not develop players in a year.
Skeptics that thought you would fall on your face.

You proved them wrong but now there’s nothing left to do here.

This entire season was your team fighting to hang on to a title it hadn’t won yet. Everyone knew you had the best team but the best team doesn’t always win the tournament. You knew that too well with how your squad as an eight seed nearly won it all a year ago.

Losing is part of basketball, it’s part of sports. Your team though didn’t react too well to it Saturday. Players walked off the court without shaking hands and one was caught on the microphone whispering obscenities in the postgame presser.

The fact is Coach, even if Kentucky had survived Wisconsin Saturday night, most of the country would have been yelling for Duke Monday night. People would rather see Duke win if it meant our team lost. I never thought that would be possible.

Kentucky is now the black hat. It will be as long as other fan bases have Coach Cal to target. You really want another six years of that?DSC_1253

I don’t think you do. At the open practice Friday you had your team walk off the court waving to fans with 15 minutes left in the hour long session. It was bold, to say you didn’t need the 15 minutes of court time. Jim Nantz was waiting to interview you after the practice like he did with the other three Final Four coaches and I can tell he was not happy you left without saying a word. Then again, I’m assuming you don’t care and probably needed a break from the media. I’m betting you are over this crap.

You’re over with the media analyzing everything you do and with presenting yourself as an image to appeal to the media and the fans. Let’s face it, your interviews sound more like campaign ads than basketball sound bites. How long can you do that before it takes a toll?

In the NBA you’ll still have media obligations but you will not have to worry about representing an entire state. You can be yourself. Plus, people won’t accuse you of paying players. Everyone of them is supposed to be paid.

You’ve done everything you can at Kentucky, now you need to move on.

Just make sure you give us a chance to say goodbye and most importantly…

Say thank you.

Photos from Final Four Friday

DSC_1180I was in the building for four hours of team practices of the Final Four and got off some good pictures. It’s a great time here in Indianapolis, seeing all these fan bases come together.

Michigan State had the most fun with its practice time, with a dunk show at the end. The Spartans also took some half-court shots in the final seconds. It kind of gave the impression that Michigan State was just happy to be there. Then again it may have shown just how loose the team is.DSC_1156DSC_1153DSC_1165Duke was the most business like in its practice. No fooling around under Coach K.DSC_1171DSC_1172DSC_1177Wisconsin ended its practice with a half-court contest of its own, but also shot free throws to get a feel for shooting them in a football venue. DSC_1182DSC_1194DSC_1209Kentucky also shot free-throws but ended its practice 15 minutes early. Coach John Calipari didn’t stick around to talk to Jim Nantz as the team walked off the court to wave to the fans. DSC_1214DSC_1224DSC_1236DSC_1254I’m still picking Kentucky to win it all but it’s a little shaky right now. Should be a great Final Four Saturday.

What is the most important stat in NCAA tournament games?

If there was one mistake I made this year with my bracket it was picking the wrong statistic to be my leading indicator for predictions. That was defense.
The result was picking Kentucky to beat Virginia in the title game. Whoops.
As you can see in the top 50 defenses, Virginia and Kentucky are at the top. While Kentucky and Wisconsin made the Final Four with elite defensesFinal Four Indy, Duke was outside the top 100 and Michigan State was outside the top 80.

Think offense is the key stat? Think again. The top 50 is a mixed bag of teams who did well in the tournament and teams who flopped like Davidson and Iowa State.

Three-point shooting? Only two teams in the top 20 of 3-point field-goal percentage even made it to the Sweet 16 in Gonzaga and Utah.

This leaves the stat coaches talk about all the time. Turnovers.

While it’s not overwhelming, the quality of teams in the top 50 is significant. Turnover margin was the key to getting West Virginia to the Sweet 16 and Georgia State’s big upset of Baylor.
Georgia State was plus 15 in turnovers in its upset of Baylor, turning over the Bears 21 times. Baylor’s rebounding and defense was not good enough to make up for it.

West Virginia was plus 5 in turnover margin against Buffalo and was plus 13 vs. Maryland. The problem for WVU is it met Kentucky in the Sweet 16; a team that also forces miscues because of its length and size. The Mountaineers were minus 3 against the Wildcats and that contributed to a 78-39 drumming.

Virginia Commonwealth is known for its pressure and forcing mistakes, but Ohio State was strong in the turnover game too. The result was the Buckeyes winning in overtime as the two squads ended with 11 turnovers each. Having the same number of turnovers as VCU is quite the accomplishment.

Wichita State shot a dreadful 15.4 % from 3 against Indiana but edged out a win thanks to plus six in turnover margin.

The Louisville Cardinals are always good in the turnover game as that’s Rick Pitino’s forte. An upset from UC-Irvine appeared likely but Louisville survived courtesy of a plus five in turnover margin. It was the only team stat the Cardinals clearly controlled. The turnover edge nearly propelled the Cardinals to the Final Four as lost to the Spartans in overtime in the East Regional Final. Louisville was just plus three in that game.

Remember the First Four? BYU came in as an offensive powerhouse and shot an insanely 15 of 29 from 3. Problem though was Ole Miss turning BYU over 15 times to its 7.

It’s also interesting that among the teams with the fewest turnovers per game you’ll find Wisconsin at No. 2. It’s an advantage that might neutralize the defense of Kentucky a tiny bit.

It’s not unanimous, but turnover margin has been a key stat throughout the tournament. Six of the Elite Eight are in the top 75 of the stat with Michigan State being the only true anomaly at No. 215.

Now I wish I could have just reworked the bracket with that in mind.