Monday, March 21, 2005

NCAA Women's Basketball Tourney Report

I, TeacherRefPoet, am your correspondent for everything you need to know about the NCAA Women's Hoop Tourney. Well, last night anyway. Okay, last night in Seattle. Swankette and I went to see a pair of second-round games at the UW...Baylor/Oregon and Vanderbilt/Kansas State. We were in the FRONT ROW! Just a few seats down from the Baylor/Vanderbilt benches, and right behind the alternate official, which allowed us to be completely immersed in the games. I will tell you some stuff that I noticed, and then, if you want, you can surf over to Swankette's site and she'll tell you some stuff she noticed. In fact, we had to fight a little over who got to talk about what!

Observations are kinda random.

First, the Baylor/Oregon game:

--Neither team played well. This is because Oregon wanted to slow the game down to have a chance at keeping up with Baylor, and it wound up being a bit of a street fight. Oregon was up by one, 16-15, with 8:02 left in the first half, but then didn't score again for six and a half minutes, by which time Baylor had scored 18 straight. Oregon barely shot the ball in those six and a half minutes. It was ugly basketball, and in spite of the lopsided win, Baylor's play wasn't much better than Oregon's. They'll need to play better to get past Minnesota, and definitely to get past the probable matchup with UNC or with Arizona State (in Tempe).

--The head official was Lisa Mattingly...one of the best. I was stoked to be where I could hear her and watch her work. Right before tipoff, and just a few feet away from me, she took out a stick of what I believe to be Wrigley's Spearmint Gum and stuck it in her mouth and started chewing. I was absolutely floored. She was going to call the game with a wad of gum in her mouth! I would choke to death if I tried that. Beyond that, I think I'd have a hell of a time blowing a whistle while chewing gum. As best as I can figure, I think she must tuck it in her cheek while she's running--which, given her full-year officiating schedule, must be really bad for her oral health.

--Baylor's head coach, Kim Mulkey-Robertson, was quite intense. Not rude or overbearing, but damned intense. I suppose it would have been worse if it had been a closer game.

--Mulkey-Roberttson got on Mattingly a couple of times, shouting at her at one point: "THAT'S YOUR CALL, LISA! THAT'S YOUR CALL!!!" (It wasn't.) Mattingly just shrugged a little as she ran by. Didn't acknowledge the coach much. It was a little different in the second game.

--Tough game to officiate--but Mattingly and her partners (whose names I cannot find) did a fine job.

--I loved sitting behind the time-out coordinator and NCAA representative. When the game got out of hand, we could keep an eye on more competitive games on the TV.

--Baylor is still steamed about a call that went against them with 0.2 seconds left in their game against Tennessee in the Sweet 16 last year. Really steamed. But when I see that replay, I see a foul and a gutsy call.

Next, the Vanderbilt/Kansas State game:

--Hadn't heard of any of the officials: Lawson Newton, Randy Campbell, or Anita Ortega. I don't like the first name Lawson--and if it is to be used, it should be used with a monosyllabic last name.

--Vanderbilt's coach, Melanie Balcomb, acted like a complete [I can't decide whether to use "ass," "butthole," or "turd," so I'll let you pick] the entire night. The first call of the game, she dropped an F-bomb on Campbell. She taunted Ortega, saying "You haven't used your whistle all night!" She let loose with a few "goddammits." I went ahead and yelled back--I was close enough that she could hear me--that there were kids here, and she should watch her language. Does she believe that her berating of officials is acceptable, normal, adult behavior? I don't.

--With 12 minutes remaning in the game, Newton, after explaining what he saw on a borderline (aren't they all?) block call, finally showed Balcomb his palm. He was on the other side of the floor...it was a calm gesture. I liked it. Then, Ortega went up to her the next trip down the floor to make the warning verbal. Good teamwork...she obviously saw the gesture. She didn't talk nearly as much thereafter.

--Kansas State's Laurie Koehn set the NCAA record for most three-pointers in a career. But she shot 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. Vandy was all over her all night.

--Reason #2,759,201 I love my baby: She said to me, and I quote: "Look! The cheerleaders' skirts are so short, you can actually see their asses." Few women would call their men's attention to that.

--Vanderbilt was up by double-digits most of the second half, but K-State had a massive comeback...10 points between the 4 minute and 2 minute mark. K-State were down 61-58 with 42 seconds to go, played awesome defense on the Commodores, and got the ball with 12 seconds left. They took the ball down the floor and took...A TWO POINTER. Yeah, Brie Madden put it home, but by then there were 5 seconds left. Terrible decision...eliminated any chance of victory.

--I was rooting for K-State. I like purple, and I briefly attended a Big XII school (back when it was the Big 8. Arabic numeral, not Roman.)

--If you ask the NCAA people nicely as they're distributing halftime stats to the press box, they'll give you one.

--While looking at that, my honey said "Looks like Vanderbilt are ahead because of points off turnovers." I hadn't noticed. She's becoming a sports studette.

--This was as much fun as I've had in years at a basketball game.

--Vanderbilt has a shot against Michigan State. They have a tendency to play the stand-still offense, which will have to stop. But they've got the horses to beat MSU, who are not a terribly strong 1 seed.

--I see Newton moving on in the tournament for officials, as well as Mattingly and her female partner whose name I don't know. I'll keep an eye out for them.

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