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Your Curated Guide to Women's Sports

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, AP Women's Soccer
Twitter: @AnnieMPeterson

 
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, High Post Hoops
Twitter: @HowardMegdal

  
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, NWHL Broadcaster
Twitter: @ELindsay08
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The UConn-Notre Dame rivalry is sports at its best—Kalani Brown interview—must-click women's basketball links


So what has been a long-term battle, with multiple fronts—the Notre Dame-UConn rivalry—spilled into public view once more this week.
Most deliciously, this happened via social media, where Breanna Stewart pointed out that Muffer McGraw had blocked her on Twitter. But this is all many years in the making, as the great Russ Steinberg made clear in this history post.
And perhaps this is easy for me to say, as someone without a dog in this fight—I really enjoy Muffet, who I think is criminally underrated, Geno is delightful to interview and I'm in awe of his accomplishments, Arike provided the greatest moments I've ever witnessed on a basketball court, and the bluntness of Breanna Stewart, the best player in the world, will never cease to entertain me—but my message is: YES. MORE OF THIS. 
For reasons that are equal parts well-meaning and cynical, we seem to hold women in sports to a different standard. Men can trash talk, can develop sports enemies, even genuine dislike for one another. Yet something about the way we define women in sports, and how the leagues themselves often market them, doesn't allow for it. (Here's where I sigh about the WNBA wasting a chance to market Diana Taurasi as a Kobe-style villain for the past fifteen years.) Whether Arike's lack of composure against Connecticut hurts her WNBA Draft stock is a different question, but it is a fun question, a sports question. Who knows, maybe her eagerness to challenge anyone and everyone actually helps her next spring—it sure didn't stop her in last year's Final Four!
But for me, anyway, this is the glory of covering sports up close—the finest competitors in the world using every bit of their emotional selves, not just physical exertion, in pursuit of what they've sought their entire lives. Why we leave women out of a portion of that full spectrum of athletics at the professional and college level baffles me, and it needs to stop.
So I'm not really interested in determining who is the right and true conveyor of playing college basketball properly, anymore than I was upset about Odyssey Sims and Lindsay Whalen going at each other in various ways, physically and verbally, through the epic Lynx-Sparks rivalry. Maybe that's just my POV, too, as someone with affection and respect for both Brian Agler and Cheryl Reeve. 
But those teams didn't like each other, either, and would do anything in their power to beat each other. It's great. Let's enjoy it. And I'm already thinking about the rematch come March. That can't be bad for the game of women's basketball, now can it?

This Week in Women's Basketball

The Players' Tribune builds on last week's great Dawn Staley piece with a roundtable discussion among women of color in coaching.

Hampton head coach David Six is back on the sideline just months after a stroke.

Andrew Mentock puts the spotlight on Brianna Turner's WNBA Draft outlook.

Terrific Steve Gress piece on Mikayla Pivec.

Mechelle Voepel with her usual smart take, this time on what Notre Dame needs to do better.

Over at HuffPo, David Berri explodes the Mark Cuban myth about WNBA revenue using historical context of men's leagues.

Lisa Stockton, now at 500 wins, is a treasure of knowledge.

New Around the Rim podcast goodness.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to listening to this tonight: Blake DuDonis with Joe Tartamella, the St. John's head coach.

Tweet of the week!


Five at The IX:
Kalani Brown, Baylor


I spoke to Kalani last month at national media day.

HOWARD MEGDAL: What's the biggest improvement you think you've made in the off season that helped you get ready for the season that starts in a few days?

KALANI BROWN: The biggest improvement in my offseason, I would have to say I'm working on trying to be more of a rebounder. Also, working on maybe a trail 3, watching a lot of big girls at the next level. I noticed they're picking and popping more, being more versatile. So, I'm trying to do that.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Is it something that affects you, that there aren't that many big girls who like playing in the post and playing the back to the basket anymore?

KALANI BROWN: Yes. I'm aware. That's the whole reason of why I wanted to critique my game as far as — I still want to do what I do best, but I still want to also keep up with the game as well. I don't want to get left behind. So, I just got to come out of my comfort zone a little bit. Coach [Kim Mulkey] made that clear. She said I need to be more of a rebounder. So, I'm just trying to do what coach says, 'cause I know she knows best for me. I'm an All American because of her.

HOWARD MEGDAL: It's not much of a jump because you were taking a lot of mid range and you were real effective from that spot—last year as well. Is it a question of efficiency? Is it a question of spacing for the team as well, or is it as much with an eye on where your game needs to get to?

KALANI BROWN: I think a little bit of both. You know, when Lauren [Cox] gets down there ... when you play Baylor you know you crowd the paint. Automatic. We know that's coming, for sure. So, if we could spread the floor out a little bit more and I can open the paint up for her, instead of Lauren just opening up for me all the time, then that would be great as far as that goes.

So, that's something I've been working on. I don't know. We also need a three point shooter. That does not have to be me. I'm not going to go out there and be Steph Curry, but I'm not saying I'm going to shoot three every game, 'cause I still want to do what I do best, you know, stay in my comfort zone. But, just a little bit, you know? Not much to do there.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Have you found, even just during the course of your college career, that as teams are going smaller more of the time, you end up with these mismatches more often, where whoever's defending you does not have the size to be able to stay in the post with you?

KALANI BROWN: I am noticing that, but that also comes back to my defense. I have to be able to move my feet and guard them, so to speak. So, I can be killing them but at the end of the day they could be driving on me, shooting threes and stuff and I got a little bit of that. I got a little rude awakening with that against Oregon State. I thought, "I think she got the best of me," as far as that goes. I had an off game and she brought me out with her. I think it was Marie Gulich. She brought me out and was shooting fade aways and I was like, "Wow, you know, maybe I should critique that." As bad as that loss was, it was a learning experience for me.

HOWARD MEGDAL: How did you work on it? What specific ways do you go about fixing that? 'Cause, it's hard when it's not game speed, I would imagine.

KALANI BROWN: Right, but Coach works hard to make practice game speed. We do a lot of game-like things, so it's all about repetition, honestly. Working on the everyday and then just performing it in the game, honestly.

But, I don't want that to happen again, getting caught off-guard like that. So, I know I'm going to see only more of that on the next level, I want to make sure my defense is getting better and it's something that I'm really working on, moving my feet on the perimeter.
 
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