ACC notebook: Coaches weigh-in on NIL, the Alliance, three-point line
Plus, other news, notes and links ahead of the start of college basketball.
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At the ACC women’s basketball Tip-Off event in Charlotte last month, the league’s head coaches were available to answer questions on a variety of topics. Three that grabbed my interest — that I wanted to hear their thoughts on — was NIL, the Alliance, and the three-point line being pushed back.
NIL is short for name, image and likeness. It allows college athletes to make money off of those three things, by endorsing companies, promoting products on social media, selling autographs and in other ways. Has that impacted how these head coaches recruit? Are NIL opportunities part of their pitches?
The Alliance is a vague partnership that the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 entered into this past fall. It was seen as a move powered by football and was announced shortly after the SEC got bigger and stronger by adding Oklahoma and Texas. How does this partnership benefit women’s basketball?
And the three-point line in women’s college basketball is moving back this season to 22-feet and 1.75-inches from 20-feet and nine-inches. How will this impact spacing on the floor this season?
Here’s what ACC head women’s basketball coaches had to say.
UNC’s Courtney Banghart: “I think, obviously, the more marketable you are and the more you can make money. And Carolina is one of the giant brands in the country. And then you got the Jordan Brand – its probably the most up-and-coming, or the most hot, right now. So, you put Carolina’s brand with the Jordan Brand, and then you put a program that I'm very confident can continue to make major progress, and you look at it and say – I can at least assure you of marketability. And you got to do your half and contribute and do things the right way and whatnot. But also, I think NLI is so unknown. It’s early… You need people that are going to think critically alongside you – not put you in a social media box, or a camp box or a sponsorship box. If nothing else, I’m at least educated, right? So, let me help you think about how to maximize that. I don’t know the answers yet, but I know that I can help you think critically about it.”
Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey: “I think we’re still kind of learning. I think it’s an ever-changing landscape. And we have some things set in place at Notre Dame that has helped us as far as, when we have recruits on the road, when they ask questions about our resources. So, they've created an incredible resource called the gold center for us to kind of filter our team to using NLI and getting a lot of advice… And then for recruiting, it just depends. Some recruits ask about NLI and some don’t. We just like to make sure we have the education, that lets them know that we're trying to help as much as we can, to try to make sure our players can maximize their talent and their image. It’s a new space for everybody. Hopefully, next year, we have a little bit more education because some of our players are getting opportunities and hopefully we can put them in a situation that they can use their platform to get more opportunities.”
Louisville’s Jeff Walz: “There are so many different rules in different states. What we can talk about is our fanbase. We have a wonderful fanbase. But I can’t go out there and start selling and pitching NIL deals. I do think it’s going to be really interesting to see how this all shakes out. I think a lot of players think it's like the professional sports – everybody gets paid. It’s not how it is… I might have three or four players that do get NIL deals, and some that don’t. We talked about this with our team: Life’s not fair. We’re all not guaranteed the same. As coaches, as universities, you’ve got to prepare these student athletes; everybody’s not going to get the same. You’ve got to be okay with that.”
Louisville’s Jeff Walz: “We already have the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. And now you can add a Pac-12. You can get the opportunity to travel and recruit. We recruit nationally – we have players from California and Washington. Now, instead of trying to get someone to play from their area, it might just work out that its scheduled. So, it's going to give us a chance to get out on the west coast, hopefully, with just a game that’s scheduled between the leagues instead of me trying to call and work out something.”
Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey: “Those conferences are all extremely strong, especially Stanford winning the national championship in the Pac-12, and having Arizona, so many strong coaches and players. So, being able to join an alliance, we feel that it's strength in numbers in the ACC. And Jim Phillips is doing an incredible job leading the way for us, being an incredible leader. And again, I just feel like those are some strong conferences and just being able to join that, to grow our game, I think is always going to be beneficial and empowering for our student athletes.”
The three-point line
UNC’s Courtney Banghart: “We are a team that we don't really have a knockdown shooter. We are shooters by committee. And so, I was wondering the same thing. I think it will hurt other teams more than us. I don’t know if our kids will really notice, good or bad.”
N.C. State’s Wes Moore: “You know, I can remember when I was at Chattanooga, we played Tennessee one year and afterwards, Pat Summitt was talking about one of our freshmen and how she changed the game a little bit for us, because she could shoot so deep that it really spread the floor out. And I think that's what the three-point line is going to do. The way we go into every game, we don’t know for sure how people are going to play us. So, we let them pick their poison.”
Duke’s Kara Lawson: “I haven't seen a noticeable difference with our players and our team just in the day-to-day. I hadn't really noticed it, to be honest with you, in terms of how we're shooting it or spacing and things like that. So, I think for us, it hasn't been too different. But I guess we can all wait and see and watch the percentages.”
Around the ACC…
Who does Georgia Tech head coach Nell Fortner think the best team in the ACC is? “I’d say N.C. State. Everybody’s coming back on that team. And they added some really good pieces. So, I would say, if I had to put a pecking order, I would say them first.”
Here’s what Louisville sophomore Hailey Van Lith had to say about the competitiveness of the ACC this season: “Even the transfers that came into the conference; Duke’s transfers, our transfers… Players want to play in this league. These players can do everything. They don’t have weaknesses. You have to be a well-rounded basketball team in the ACC… In the ACC, all the coaches are very good at their jobs. They have great scouts. I know, as a player, it can be frustrating to play in the ACC, because they know every move you want to make.”
Duke freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson scored 11 points in the Blue Devils exhibition win over Wingate last week. Here’s what Kara Lawson said about her performance: “She’s got a really great pace to how she plays. She has got a really good burst, she helps change the game for us with her burst. The other thing that Shaye does is she sees the floor really well. She has a good command what’s going on in front of her. She can see not just her defender, she can see other players’ defenders and she understands the personnel she’s playing with. I think she had six assists tonight. She did a good job of passing the ball and finding teammates.”
At the ACC Tip-Off event in Charlotte last month, Pitt guard Dayshanette Harris told me that she hopes to be 100% healthy by the start of the season. She added: “With having (offseason knee) surgery, I couldn’t do much physically. So, I watched a lot of basketball, watched a lot of film, just trying to get the mental part of the game down while being out physically. So, I think that’s the part of the game I worked on most. Now, it’s putting what I’ve learned into action.”
Former Duke guard Haley Gorecki was added to the roster for Team USA’s 3x3 squad for the 2021 FIBA 3x3 AmeriCup that will be played Nov. 12-14 at Bayfront Park in Miami. Since leaving Duke, Gorecki has spent time in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury. As senior at Duke, she was a 2020 USBWA All-America third team selection and a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award.
Corina Carter is leaving Virginia before playing a single minute for Tina Thompson’s Cavaliers. Per a source close to the situation, Carter entered the transfer portal on Oct. 29. Carter transferred to Virginia from New Mexico this past off season, where she had spent two seasons. She averaged 16.9 minutes per-game last year with the Lobos and dished out 58 assists in 19 games. The 5-foot-6 San Antonio, Texas native was an ESPN Top 100 recruit in 2019.
Also leaving Virginia is Zaria Johnson, a sophomore guard. According to a source close to the situation, Johnson entered the portal on Nov. 2. A former three-star prospect from Katy, Texas, she played in four games for the Cavaliers last season before they postponed their season.
Ronni Nwora is no longer listed on Georgia Tech’s roster. She redshirted in 2019-20 and also did not play last season for the Yellow Jackets. A 6-foot-2 forward, she is the younger sister of Milwaukee Bucks forward Jordan Nwora.
At the ACC Tip-Off event, Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said this to Packer & Durham when talking about Purdue transfer Kayana Traylor: “Between her and Georgia Amoore, they love splitting time at the point guard position, they can play together. She can play off the ball, she’s probably the best defender that we have and she just has experience. She’s something that we desperately needed.”
UNC’s Alyssa Utsby was one of four ACC players tabbed to the watch list for the Cheryl Miller award, given annually to the top small forward in women’s college basketball. The others from the ACC were Elizabeth Balogun (Duke), Emily Engstler (Louisville) and Taylor Soule (Boston College). Of Utsby’s selection, head coach Courtney Banghart said in a statement: “This is such deserving preseason recognition for Alyssa. She was incredibly impactful on both sides of the ball last year and over 94 feet. Lys is such a joy to coach. She has grown her game in the offseason and is as driven as ever to compete alongside her teammates this season, wherever is needed.”
(Full disclosure: I’m a voter for the Miller Award.)
Louisville inked head coach Jeff Walz to a contract extension through 2028. Walz is the program’s most-winningest coach and has a 385-108 record since being hired in 2007. Walz has led the Cardinals to 33 wins in the NCAA tournament – they had just a total of four postseason wins before he arrived. Walz, 49, is entering his 15th season on the job. Louisville is ranked No. 6 in the AP Preseason Top 25 Poll.
UNC head coach Courtney Banghart was selected as vice president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association last month. Banghart – now entering her third season with the Tar Heels – has served on the WBCA board since 2015. In July 2023, Banghart will succeed UCLA’s Cori Close as the president of the organization. Banghart said in a statement: “This is a pivotal time for our sport as we continue to grow the game and expand our fan base. I’ve devoted myself to coaching this sport for more than 20 years and I feel passionately about the WBCA’s mission. I’m excited to take on this new role and enthusiastic about what lies ahead for women’s basketball.”
The ACC and Big Ten will own ESPN’s networks on Dec. 2. N.C. State’s game at Indiana will air that night on ESPN2 at 7 p.m., then Iowa’s game at Duke will air on ESPN at 9 p.m. Both games are part of the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Elsewhere in women’s basketball…
In No. 4 Maryland’s exhibition win last week over Fairmont State, the Terps shot 66.2% from the floor, while limiting the Falcons to a 22.7% shooting. The Terps also flushed 13 threes while shooting 72.2% from behind the arc. Shyanne Sellers, Katie Benzan and Ashley Owusu led the team with 20 points each.
No. 19 West Virginia topped NAIA West Virginia Tech 113-33 in an exhibition game on Oct. 28. Jasmine Carson – who transferred to the Mountaineers in 2020 from Georgia Tech – tallied 25 points and three assists in just 18 minutes of play. WVU officially opens its season on Nov. 16 at home vs. St. Francis (PA).
I spoke with Madison Siegrist – who led the Big East in scoring and rebounding last season – for a story at City of Basketball Love. Here’s a quote from her that missed the cut, on Villanova’s strengths this season: “I think the strength is our depth. We have a solid nine players that can contribute to the game and we don’t really lose anything going to our bench. Last season, depth was kind of an issue… I think this year, we do (have depth), which is really great. Defensively, I think we’re really long and active, so I think we’ll be able to get some steals and disrupt the other teams.”
I also spoke with Meg Hair – a senior for Penn – for a story at City of Basketball Love. Here’s what she worked on since the 20 months the Quakers last took the court: “The main thing that I tried to get better at was shooting three’s coming off of screens… and then ball-handling. You can always get better at that. So, coming off ball screens, dribbling into a three, really just be consistent with my jump shot. We have a lot of guards on this team. So, I think our ability to get up and down the court is going to be our biggest strength this season. We’re all in shape, we’re all eager to play, and that competitive spirit is in the gym every time we’re practicing.”
Wilmington, Delaware will be the new home for the A-10 women’s basketball tournament. The multi-year agreement begins this season, in March 2022, and games will be played at CHASE Fieldhouse – home to the Delaware Bluecoats of the NBA G-League. The arena seats 2,500 people. This is the first time the conference has had a neutral site for its women’s basketball tournament since the Richmond Coliseum was the host from 2014-2018. More on the A-10 tournament here.
Both of the Army-Navy women’s basketball games will air on CBS Sports Network this season. The first contest, in Annapolis, is on Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. EST. The second game at West Point is on Feb 12 with a tip-off time that is still to-be-determined. This will be the second year on the job for Navy head coach Tim Taylor and the first for Army’s Missy Traversi.
Appalachian State has extended the contract of head coach Angel Elderkin through the 2027 season. Elderkin has been the head coach of the Mountaineers since 2014. In 2019, she led them to a WBI Championship. App went 15-12 last season. (Watauga Democrat)
South Carolina women's basketball will play 21 of its 29 games on national television this season. The Gamecocks will play at least four games on ESPN, and as many as eight games on ESPN2. (GamecocksOnline.com )
Additionally in South Carolina, Dawn Staley just got a whole lot richer, and deservedly so. South Carolina inked her to a contract extension worth more than $22 million that will keep her in Columbia through 2028. (The Next)
Stuff I wrote…
For WUNC, I profiled Brooklyn Harker. Yes, she’s a girl. And yes, she plays football. And get this: she’s a safety, and a pretty damn good one too for the Chapel Hill Tigers.
At West Virginia Sports Now, I wrote on the Mountaineers being ranked in the AP Preseason Top 25 Poll.
I spoke with Wes Moore, Elissa Cunane and Jewell Spear about Diamond Johnson for City of Basketball Love. Johnson played with Spear with the U-19 USA basketball team this past summer, and is expected to bolster N.C. State’s depth at the guard position.
For Against All Enemies at SB Nation, here’s 61 photos from Navy’s narrow football loss to No. 2 Cincinnati.
At City of Basketball Love, I talked with Meg Hair and Kennedy Suttle about evolving from sophomores to seniors quickly. Because the Ivy League was canceled last season, Penn hasn’t played a game in 20 months.
In the history of women’s basketball in the Big East, only three players have ever led the league in scoring and rebounding. Villanova’s Madison Siegrist is one of them. When she was recruited to Villanova, former head coach Harry Perretta told her she probably wouldn’t play a lot. Now, she’s a legit star in the league. Here’s my profile of her for City of Basketball Love.
Also for City of Basketball Love, here’s the non-conference games featuring City 6 teams that you can’t miss.
At the ACC Tip-Off event last month, Pitt’s Lance White, Amber Brown and Dayshanette Harris raved about the improvements Rita Igbokwe has made. For Pittsburgh Sports Now, I wrote about why they think she can be a top post player in the ACC. And I also wrote about why White expects defense and rebounding to be a strength for the Panthers.
For Inside MD Sports, I previewed the Terps’ upcoming women’s basketball season, and the big expectations they face.
Here’s my big annual ACC women’s basketball preview for The Next. I touch on each of the 15 teams and use about 5,000 words to do so.
Be safe. Y’all be good.
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