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WBB: Ags host the NCAAs on Fri-Sun

A&M faces Drake in the first round

Selection Monday 2018 at TAMU
The women celebrate Selection Monday with the fans
jimhu’s iPhone

A big crowd gathered in the Cox-McFerrin Center to join the Women’s Bouncy Ball team in watching ESPN’s Selection Monday show. ESPN cameras were set up to show the crowd reaction when the Texas A&M would be placed in the bracket.

The Ags were a lock to make the Big Dance and the only outstanding questions were:

  • Would we get the 4 seed (or bette) predicted by Coach Blair and others that would allow us to host?
  • When would we play, Fri-Sun or Sat-Mon?
  • Who would be in our path to the Championship?

Undefeated UConn was named first as the #1 overall seed. The first good news for the Ags came early when Duke was named as the 5 seed in the Albany regional and the graphic showed the location as Athens, GA. That meant that Georgia would be the #4 seed and A&M’s path would involve UConn unless we reach the Final Four.

The Ags placement was revealed in the next set of teams that make up the Spokane regional. As with the Albany reveal, the location of the 5-12 pairing between DePaul and OU showing College Station got the crowd cheering before the name Texas A&M came up on the projected screen. Moments later, the Drake Bulldogs were revealed the 13 seed who would face the Ags in the opener was revealed to be.

The bad news was that the game will be Friday at 1:30, which means that many who want to go will miss the end of the men’s game against Providence (and we all know that nothing happens at the end of our Men’s Bouncy Ball games, right?). Coach Blair asked if the Men could be shown on the Jumbotron at Reed before our game, and someone briefly said yes before remembering that OU and DePaul would be playing the opener at 11. From my memory of how the NCAA controls things, I doubt we would have been able to do it anyway.

The time conflict with MBB means that very few A&M fans are likely to show up for the first game, which might be interesting. OU has the dubious distinction of having both their men and women as controversial bubble teams that got in. The consensus among WBB pundits is that Rutgers was more deserving than 16-14 OU. Rutgers, after being snubbed, decided not to go to the WNIT despite their coach, C. Vivian Stringer, needing only 3 more wins to reach 1000. 26-7 DePaul comes in as the Big East champ and on a 6 game win streak. The two teams played back at the start of the season with DePaul winning 111-108 in OT.

What do we know about Drake?

Coach Blair told the team that we’re not playing the rapper, and asked if anyone knew what state Drake was in.

Drake University is a small, urban school of about 5K students (3K undergrad) in Des Moines, Iowa. Track aficionados will recognize it as the site of the Drake Relays. Drake’s colors are blue and white, and the Bulldogs play in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Drake Women were 26-7 overall and undefeated in conference play (18-0). Last year they were a 10 seed sent to Manhattan, Kansas where they lost to the host in the first round.

Former Iowa player Jennie Barancyzk has coached Drake WBB since 2012. This is the second year in a row her team has gone undefeated in the MVC and she was named coach of the year. Drake plays a lot of different players. Starters in the MVC championship game also started the vast majority of their games:

  • #35 6-2 RS-Jr F/C Becca Jonas
  • #12 6-0 6-0 G/F Brenni Rose scores 8.3 ppg.
  • #21 5-10 Jr G Sammie Bachrodt was the MVC Defensive player of the year. She also scores 10.2 ppg.
  • #2 5-8 Fr G Maddie Monahan
  • #5 6-0 So G Becca Hittner was the MVC player of the year. She leads the team in scoring.

Drake brings a couple of players who average double digits in scoring off the bench. Sara Rine was the MVC 6th Player of the Year. They’re really balanced in many categories. I watched a little of the replay of the MVC championship and it seemed like they move the ball well on offense, and played a lot of 2-3 zone on D. They held Northern Iowa scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the game.