#BBWSUSA: Hoops Express

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The ACC women’s basketball league will be very competitive moving forward into the 2020-21 season and beyond. With the recent untimely retirement of longtime Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw, the Pennsylvania native graced the sidelines for 32 years, finishing up a turbulent 2019-20 season that lead to her retirement. Subsequently, athletic director Jack Swarbrick decided to hire former player and coach Niele Ivy, as the new head coach. The class personified Ivy, was the ideal hire to lead the program into the future. Soon after, Notre Dame lifer, Beth Morgan Cunningham abruptly resigned from her position as associate head coach after 8 seasons at the foot of coach McGraw. “Coach Morgan Cunningham is no longer a member of the women’s basketball staff as she is pursuing other coaching opportunities” according to program spokesman Josh Bates.  Former Penn State head coach Coquese Washington was ultimately hired in her place. Washington, who is also a Notre Dame alumni, fit right into the family in South Bend. Look for Notre Dame women’s basketball to have a different identity under the tutelage of Niele Ivy.


Coach Quentin Hillsman, rolled out the red carpet in his 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes with 10 prospects, loaded with talent in every position. The Syracuse women’s basketball program’s first McDonald’s All-American was guard Erica Morrow, a 5-foot-8 Brooklynite out of powerhouse Murray Bergtraum High School (N.Y.). Soon after, the program established itself as a perennial top 25 ranked team in one of the strongest conferences in the country.


The NCAA just extended the dead period until July 31st, ultimately crippling the entire spring and summer live periods. Hopefully, the NCAA will push the live period back to late August sometime. The notion of having an NCAA live period in September is very slim. When there is already an uproar on the collegiate level as to why athletes are allowed on campus but not regular matriculating students.

The smaller colleges and universities athletic departments do not have the expenditures to cover the COVID-19 pandemic loses. In the Pac 12 conference, the University of Arizona announced furlongs and budget cutbacks in an email sent by school president Robert C. Robbins. This was done to attempt to make up for an estimated 66 million dollars in loses so far. The University of Connecticut in Storrs are one of those schools also bleeding financially. The schools athletic department is in shambles, in the red about 40 million dollars. Their tenure in the American Athletic Conference was a disaster. After Jim Calhoun left, UConn men’s basketball fell apart in the nondescript AAC league. Furthermore, the women’s basketball team wasn’t challenged, and the men’s team’s talent pool of  recruits dissipated significantly, leading to them not being able to land blue chip players anymore. UConn’s recent move to the Big East Conference is aimed at rebuilding their brand of men’s basketball. Football wise, they are running as an independent, which may be a shaky deal, only time will tell. However, the school  just signed a contract with CBS Sports to air all home games through the 2023 season. All in all, the AAC is a very good league, it just didn’t benefit UConn’s athletic departments move in an upward trajectory, financially or athletically.

In the Big 12 Conference, Kansas State’s athletic department made salary and athletic cutbacks of up to 3.5 million dollars. Appalachian State University in North Carolina is set to dump several sports, including the men’s soccer, men’s tennis or men’s indoor track teams. Youngstown State in Ohio cut 2 million dollars from their athletic budget.


In lue of the recent coaching changes at Mississippi State, star recruit, Madison Hayes, 6-foot-1 2020 guard out of East Hamilton High School in Tennessee is staying put in Starkville. With Rikea Jackson still in the fold, the future looks bright for the program.


Recent Commitments:

Laila Fair 6-3 (F) 2021 Stuart Country Day (NJ) – St Joseph’s PA

Tayla Brugler 6-0 (G) 2021 Nazareth (PA) – St Joseph’s PA

Zanai Jones 5-5 (PG) 2021 Hudson Catholic (NJ) – Villanova

Amiaya Morgan 5-10 (W) 2021 Timbercreek (NJ) – Delaware State

Amina Selimovic 5-9 (G) 2021 McDowell (PA) – Siena

Jazmyne DeShields 5-10 (G) 2021 St Charles (MD) – Robert Morris

Kennedy Montue 5-11 (G) 2021 Plum (PA) – Oakland MI

Tiyanna James 5-6 (PG) 2020 Princess Anne (VA) Elizabeth City State University NC


Prep:

Hastings High School girl’s basketball coach John Kavanah will not return next year after a rocky season where he was fired then reinstated, allegedly due to numerous complaints by privileged and disgruntled parents at the Westchester County public school. “Knowing what has transpired here, it’s just really sad. It was driven by a couple of parents” said Kavanah who was let go by athletic director Jesse Merchant. With three division one players on the team lead by Melannie Daley, a junior guard, headed to Northwestern. The team couldn’t make it past Putnam Valley High School in the Class B Section 1 semifinals falling 69-46 at the Westchester County Center.


Zhaneia Thybulle 5-6 Sophomore point-guard has transferred from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to Wagner College on Staten Island, N.Y. The speedy Long Island native should be able to break the rotation and be a productive player for coach Heather Jacob’s program.


Congrats to Fordham University’s women’s basketball head coach Stephanie Gaitley for winning the Iron Major award, as the schools coach of the year. The award is named after football icon Frank Cavanaugh. Coach Gaitley and Fordham are a great fit, look for the program to have continued success in the 2020-21 season and beyond.

The Ohio State women’s basketball program just extended an offer to star guard Kamorea Arnold 5-foot-8 from Germantown High School (WI). Coach McGuff and staff are coming off of a great season as an NCAA tournament team before the pandemic. Look for them to be a tough team this up coming season.

Rinnah Green, a 5-8 guard will continue her college career at UNC Wilmington, after 2 season at North Carolina Charlotte. The former Hickory Ridge standout should fit in well in coach Barefoot’s program with 2 seasons of eligibility remaining.

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