Skylar Diggins, Kamiko Williams

Notre Dame women beat Tennessee, UConn on the road in same season

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Notre Dame went into Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday night and beat Tennessee 77-67.

The win itself was a good one. The no. 2-ranked Lady Irish beat the Lady Vols on the road in a win that will improve their chances at a no. 1 seed come March.

But more than that, the victory completed a feat no team in the NCAA era has ever been able to accomplish.

Notre Dame went into Storrs, Conn. and beat the Lady Huskies 73-72 on Jan. 5. That win, coupled with Monday night’s win, makes Notre Dame the first team since the NCAA began sponsoring women’s basketball that a team has beaten both those powerhouse programs on the road in the same season.

Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 33 points in the game for the Lady Irish, who improved to 19-1. Tennessee fell to 16-4.

It was banner night for Notre Dame on the same night Tennessee raised a banner itself, for legendary coach Pat Summitt. The long-time Lady Vols head coach, along with a number of former players, was on-hand to watch it go into the rafters. Summitt, who already has the court named after her, won 1,098 games, a record over men’s and women’s college basketball and eight national championships in her 38 years as head coach in Knoxville.

“This is one of the toughest places to play with all those fans out there,” Diggins told The Associated Press. “It was a great moment for Coach Summitt, with all those players like Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings on the sidelines. It was a very emotional night tonight, and I thought we did a good job of handling it because they had a lot to play for.”

This was definitely an incredible feat for Notre Dame. As it would be for any team. UConn and Tennessee have carried women’s college basketball over the years thanks to great coaches in Summitt and Geno Auriemma and to beat them both in the same season speaks volumes about coach Muffet McGraw and the job she’s done. Especially with a face-of-the-program player like Diggins.

A loss is never fun, but I’d be willing to be that Summitt had a great deal of respect for what she saw on Monday night.

David Harten is the founder of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

PHOTO: Baylor shows off new uniforms

Scott Drew
Associated Press
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Wednesday afternoon the Baylor basketball program sent out some images of its uniform combinations for the upcoming season, and the volt color way that first made a splash in 2012 is back. Baylor’s got four different uniforms it can wear this season: home (white), away (green) and two alternate uniforms.

While there is some volt green in each of the four uniforms, its presence is relatively tame compared to the uniforms Scott Drew’s program wore back in 2012. Of course those uniforms were part of adidas’ AdiZero uniform¬†release (Baylor is now outfitted by Nike), with two other schools (Cincinnati and Louisville) wearing colorful uniforms with shorts that had “interesting” patterns on them.

While some of the new uniform designs in college sports have received some pushback from fans and alums, this stuff is about the players and recruits programs look to land for the future. Everyone likes free stuff, and when it comes to apparel for young athletes having something that’s both free and “exclusive” is seen as a positive.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”