STARKVILLE -- DePaul women's basketball coach Doug Bruno brags about giving his players, "the greenest green light in America." Bruno doesn't want his players to hesitate shooting, but sometimes coaches have to be a little more emphatic in driving their point home. That is what Bruno has had to do with sophomore guard Tanita Allen. In fact, Bruno has encouraged Allen to shoot the ball more without seeing a breakthrough.
STARKVILLE -- Maryann Baker knows a "grinder" when she sees one. As a player at Texas A&M, Baker earned a reputation as a blue-collar worker who grew from a member of the scout team to a standout defensive player who helped the Aggies win a national championship in 2011.
STARKVILLE -- The so-called Cannizaro Effect -- an homage to Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro's offensive-minded approach in its first year at MSU -- refers partly to the fact the Bulldogs have 40 stolen bases in 18 games this season after swiping 51 bases last season.
STARKVILLE -- After a disappointing season, a veteran coach always looks for a sign the next season will be different. Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman received that sign last Friday when her team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 5-2 victory against then-No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Junior Ashley Williams had 19 points and 12 rebounds Thursday night to lead the Alabama women's basketball team to an 81-57 victory against Mercer in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Coleman Coliseum. With the win, the Crimson Tide (20-13) secured its first 20-win season since the 1998-99 campaign.
STARKVILLE -- Merit from this season aside, history wasn't on Northern Iowa's side. Before this season, the Missouri Valley Conference earned more than one bid to the NCAA women's basketball tournament 10 times and hadn't accomplished the feat in the last three seasons. Forgetting that UNI had two top-25 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) wins and eight top-100 RPI opponents, it had to question its postseason fate after losing to Drake in overtime on Sunday in the championship game of the league tournament.
STARKVILLE -- The reigning Big East Conference Player of the Year described herself as a role player. Her head coach saw right through it.
STARKVILLE -- Breaking records has become the norm in the Troy University women's basketball program. The Trojans have won 20 or more games in three-consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. They also have led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring each of the last five seasons.
STARKVILLE -- Up-tempo games don't faze Vic Schaefer. In fact, the Mississippi State women's basketball coach offered a warning Thursday to opponents that think his team won't be able to keep pace in up-and-down action.
Get your stopwatch out. Go. Count to seven. Shoot. Stop. Repeat. Chanda Rigby knows that isn't a conventional pattern for success as a basketball coach. But Rigby wanted to create a system that made the game exciting in her new job at Troy University, so she decided to install a fast-paced style of play patterned after Dave Arsenault's Division III Grinnell College men's basketball team.
Value the basketball. It sounds like a simple concept, but that mantra is at the heart of everything the Northern Iowa women's basketball team does. That mind-set helps explain how a team that is 229th in the nation in field goal percentage (38.6 percent) is still alive to be a part of March Madness.
STARKVILLE -- If one sees Brent Rooker pacing in the dugout in between at-bats, it's not because he's nervous. The gesture is part of a routine that is working.
Like many aspiring basketball players, Doug Bruno thought he was going to move on to a career in the NBA. As a player for DePaul men's basketball coach Ray Meyer, Bruno and his teammates had an advantage in that the NBA's Chicago Bulls practiced in the Blue Demons' gym, so Bruno had a chance to go against greats like Jerry Sloan and Norn Van Lier.
STARKVILLE -- Three hours before taking the mound for his first collegiate starting pitching appearance, Jake Mangum was in the dugout with a bat in his hand, practicing his swing piece by piece.
STARKVILLE -- Back in February, Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro could look forward to Southeastern Conference play as a far away object, one which gave him plenty of time to decide bullpen roles.
STARKVILLE -- The line said it all.
STARKVILLE -- The feeling around the Mississippi State baseball team was noticeably more optimistic Sunday following a 5-4 victory against Columbia and an 8-6 victory against South Alabama at Dudy Noble Field. The victories helped MSU (10-6) improve to 6-5 in games decided by three or fewer runs.
STARKVILLE -- The work started at 6:36 p.m. Monday. Within minutes of learning the second-seeded Mississippi State women's basketball team would play 15th-seeded Troy at 1:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Skylar Collins, the squad's director of scouting and video coordinator, was compiling clips and video of the Trojans as well as seventh-seeded DePaul and 10th-seeded Northern Iowa, the other teams slated to come to Starkville.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro asked Brent Rooker at 6:30 a.m. Monday to do something he hadn't done all season: play first base. Rooker agreed because MSU's injuries have expanded from its pitching staff to its position players.
OXFORD -- The Ole Miss, Alabama, and Southern Mississippi women's basketball teams were selected Monday to participate in the postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament.
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