Minnesota hires West Virginia’s Plitzuweit to replace Whalen

Syndication: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Minnesota hired West Virginia head coach Dawn Plitzuweit on Saturday to a six-year contract, turning to another leader with strong regional ties to try to lift up the lagging program.

Plitzuweit, who replaces Lindsay Whalen, has 16 years of experience as a head coach with a career record of 356-141 at four schools. She spent just one season with the Mountaineers, who as a 10th seed lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 7 seed Arizona on Friday.

Prior to that, Plitzuweit took South Dakota to the NCAA Tournament in four of her six seasons there. She was a three-time winner of the Summit League Coach of the Year award with the Coyotes, who reached the Sweet 16 in 2022.

Plitzuweit also spent four seasons at Northern Kentucky and five seasons at Grand Valley State, which won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2006. Between those stops, she was an assistant at Michigan.

The 50-year-old native of West Bend, Wisconsin, has also worked as an assistant at Michigan Tech, Wisconsin and Green Bay.

“This is a homecoming of sorts, and Minnesota is a program that I am very familiar with from my previous time in the surrounding area and in the Big Ten,” Plitzuweit said in a statement. “I am looking forward to getting back to the area and to meet the team, alumni and fans. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work.”

The university scheduled a news conference on Monday afternoon to introduce Plitzuweit. Terms of her contract weren’t immediately available. Whalen’s base salary this season was $547,000.

Whalen’s departure was described by Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle as a mutual decision, but it seemed like she wasn’t ready to leave. She was supposed to appear at a news conference with Coyle on March 2 when the change was announced, but later said she was too emotional to participate.

Whalen was hired five years ago with no previous coaching experience. But she is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and led her home-state Gophers to their only Final Four appearance as a player in 2004, going on to star for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA and for the U.S. national team in the Olympics.

Whalen went 71-76 with Minnesota, including a 32-58 record in Big Ten play and no NCAA Tournament appearances. The Gophers made it to the NCAAs twice in four years under Whalen’s predecessor, Marlene Stollings, their only appearances in the last 14 seasons.

Whalen brought in a highly regarded freshman class this season, with four in-state players including leading scorer Mara Braun. The Gophers’ 11-19 season ended with a first-round loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday. They tied for 12th in the Big Ten with a 4-12 record, their fewest wins in 12 years.

Plitzuweit will be the 13th head coach in Gophers program history. Her teams have been fifth or higher in regular season conference play in all 16 seasons as a coach, including 11 top-three finishes.

“We have everything in place,” Coyle said in early March. “There is no reason why it cannot be done here. That’s the question we have to figure out.”

As a player, Plitzuweit was a two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Michigan Tech with four trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

She and her husband, Jay, have a son, A.J., who plays for South Dakota, and daughter Lexi plays for Grand Valley State.

Arizona women open March Madness with win over West Virginia

Syndication: The Register Guard

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – When Shaina Pellington left the game with four fouls early in the third quarter, Arizona didn’t miss a beat.

In fact, freshman Kailyn Gilbert helped the Wildcats pull away.

Cate Reese scored 25 points and Esmery Martinez had a double-double against her former team, leading seventh-seeded Arizona to a 75-62 victory over 10th-seeded West Virginia in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday. The Wildcats went on a 16-3 run in the second half with Pellington on the bench.

“To be honest, I did not know how to take it at first, because I thought I wasn’t even going to go back in,” Gilbert said. “But then I was like, ‘You know what? I work hard every day. I’m in the gym. These are the moments I work for and I feel like I’m made for.’ I was just going to go in and have energy.”

Gilbert scored five points in 14:05, the longest outing for the 5-foot-8 guard since Jan. 29.

The Wildcats (22-9) started fast and never trailed, and will next play second-seeded Maryland. Arizona entered the tournament on a three-game losing streak, but had a couple weeks off before this matchup.

The Wildcats seemed refreshed early on, shooting 72% from the field in the first quarter. West Virginia was holding opponents to 61 points per game this season, but Arizona looked ready to breeze past that after just one quarter and a 28-17 lead.

“Anything we tried to get into from a defensive standpoint, we really had a hard time slowing them down,” West Virginia coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.

The Mountaineers (19-12) eventually settled in. It was a seven-point game at halftime, and Arizona’s lead was down to three early in the third. Pellington picked up her third and fourth fouls a few seconds apart in the third, but after two free throws by West Virginia made it 42-39, Arizona eventually pulled away again.

It was 61-51 after a foul-filled third quarter, and then the Wildcats scored the first seven points of the fourth. It was 68-57 when Pellington finally returned; she finished with 18 points.

Martinez, who played three seasons at West Virginia before transferring to Arizona, had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“I knew she was a little bit more nervous today because I think she really had the itch to do well. I knew something was going on because she was talking to the doctor to get some Pepto or something because of her stomach, so that told me nerves right away,” Wildcats coach Adia Barnes said. “I’m proud of her today because the difficult thing for Esmery all year has been staying out of foul trouble, not going for blocks, and she had one foul.”

JJ Quinerly led West Virginia with 19 points.


West Virginia: Plitzuweit guided South Dakota to the Sweet 16 last year, but a run like that didn’t materialize with the Mountaineers. They were playing catch-up from the start.

Arizona: The Wildcats were in the national title game two seasons ago, so a No. 7 seed isn’t exactly what they had in mind, but they were able to impose their will offensively for long enough to win comfortably in this one.


West Virginia had only seven turnovers but was undone by 31% shooting.

“I’m proud of our young ladies because we battled back. In a lot of ways, we took care of the basketball against one of the best teams in the country at turning opponents over,” Plitzuweit said. “We got a lot of really good looks. Unfortunately for us, we are not a team that shoots it at an incredibly high percentage.”


Almost half the scoring in the third quarter came on free throws. West Virginia went 10 of 14 and Arizona was 8 for 8.


Arizona: Lost at home in the second round last year to North Carolina. Now the Wildcats will be playing a road game against Maryland.

Maryland survives at March Madness, beats West Virginia 67-65

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a game that began before lunchtime, Maryland sleepwalked through the first 10 minutes of its NCAA Tournament opener.

Coach Kevin Willard wasn’t concerned.

He knew there was still time for a wake-up call.

Julian Reese and Maryland topped West Virginia 67-65 on Thursday after Kedrian Johnson missed a final heave at the buzzer, sending the eighth-seeded Terrapins into the second round of the South Region.

Maryland (22-12) trailed by 12 early on, but West Virginia didn’t really take advantage of the Terrapins having more turnovers (six) than points (four).

“I look at everything in a positive way,” said Willard, in his first season at Maryland after leading Seton Hall to the Big Dance. “I figured if that’s the best they can do, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Johnson led all scorers with 27 points, only to have his potential winner glance off the rim as the horn sounded.

When the ball was in the air, Johnson thought he was about to become a March Madness hero.

“For sure,” he said. “Every shot I took today, I thought it had a chance to go in.”

Reese had 17 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, which will meet top-seeded Alabama on Saturday. The Crimson Tide cruised past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 96-75.

The 8-9 matchup between Maryland and the Mountaineers (19-15) lived up to its down-to-the-wire billing.

Maryland bounced back from the early 16-4 deficit to take a 32-30 lead at halftime. Neither team could break away over the final 20 minutes.

“It just shows our character,” said Hakim Hart, who had 15 points in Maryland’s balanced offensive effort. “We’re going to keep fighting.”

A traveling call on Jahmir Young gave West Virginia a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer. But the Mountaineers could not find anyone open beyond the arc, forcing Tre Mitchell to bank it in for two under the basket.

Young was fouled after the inbounds and made only one of two free throws. West Virginia got the ball in the hands of the guy it wanted, but Johnson came up short on the buzzer-beater.

“He was terrific, absolutely terrific,” coach Bob Huggins said. “We wouldn’t have been able to stay in the game without him. That last shot, it looked like it grazed the front of the rim. He was an inch away from winning the game for us.”


Maryland capped a wild play with a huge basket in the closing minutes.

With the score tied at 59, the Mountaineers double-teamed and appeared to have forced a turnover when the ball came loose.

At least four West Virginia players had a shot at it, but they couldn’t pull it in. Finally, the ball wound up in the hands of Reese, who spotted Hart alone under the basket for a dunk with 3:44 remaining.

Maryland never relinquished the lead after that.


West Virginia’s Emmitt Matthews went out early in the second half with a stinger in his left shoulder, the result of a hard screen by Reese.

A stalwart all season for the Mountaineers, Matthews finished with two points and three rebounds in 23 minutes of playing time.

”It hurt us,” Huggins said. “He’s five-year guy that knows what we want to get done. He’s our best perimeter defender.”

Compounding the problem, starting forward Jimmy Bell played only 11 minutes before fouling out. He had no points and four rebounds.


Erik Stevenson played at Wichita State, Washington and South Carolina before finally getting a crack at the NCAA Tournament after transferring to West Virginia for his final season.

It wasn’t a storybook ending. Stevenson scored nine points on 4-of-17 shooting.

“It’s over,” Stevenson said, breaking down in tears. “I don’t know what else to say.”


West Virginia: Huggins was one-and-done in his 26th trip to the NCAA Tournament. He’ll turn 70 in September as he approaches 1,000 career wins and conceded there’s some sentiment to turn over the program to a younger coach. “I have people that say I should stay on for quite a while,” the Hall of Famer said, “and people who think I should pack it in and let some young kid come in and screw it up.” Huggins remains at 935 wins, trailing only Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) and Jim Boeheim (1,015) on the career list.

Maryland: The game came down to a final shot, but the Terrapins won this one with a dazzling close to the first half. They wiped out the double-digit deficit by hitting nine of their last 13 shots, including three beyond the arc, to go along with 7-of-7 perfection at the foul line. More important, the Terps turned it over just two times during that span.


In is last NCAA appearance two years ago, Maryland lost to Alabama in the second round.

March Madness 2023: Bubble teams heading to Selection Sunday

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports
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March Madness is coming up fast. Here is what to know, along with some key games to watch and who’s on the bubble ahead of Selection Sunday for the women’s NCAA Tournament:


Eight conference tournament championship games were played over the weekend, leaving 24 more this week to determine the remaining automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament. There will be nine conference title games on Saturday and five more on Sunday, the day the full 68-team NCAA bracket is revealed.

– The Big 12 Tournament begins Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri, with the championship game Sunday.

– No. 4 Virginia Tech (27-4) won the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina.

– No. 2 Iowa (26-6) won the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis.

– No. 20 Washington State (23-10) won the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

– No. 1 South Carolina (32-0) won the SEC Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.


Saint Louis (17-17, Atlantic 10), Gardner-Webb (29-4, Big South), Tennessee Tech (22-9, Ohio Valley) and Chattanooga (20-12, Southern).


Selection Sunday is March 12, when brackets for First Four games (March 15-16) and first- and second-round games (March 17-20) are set at multiple sites across the country.

Sweet 16 weekend brings a twist this year for the women’s teams: There will be two regional sites instead of four, with Greenville, South Carolina, and Seattle each hosting eight teams.

Where is the women’s Final Four? In Dallas, where the semifinals are March 31 and the championship game is April 2.

As it happens, the men’s Final Four is a four-hour drive down the road in Houston that same weekend.


Who’s going to win the national championship? The betting favorites as of this week to reach the Final Four are defending national champion South Carolina, Indiana, UConn and Iowa, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The NCAA’s most recent seeding prediction is a little different – Stanford and Utah instead of UConn and Iowa – and the top quartet in the AP Top 25 poll is: South Carolina, Iowa, Indiana and Virginia Tech. So buckle up!


West Virginia (19-10) had lost five of seven games before finishing the regular season with a three-game winning streak. Another win or two at the Big 12 Tournament would likely leave no question about getting into the NCAA Tournament. Dawn Plitzuweit is in her first season with the Mountaineers. She took South Dakota to the last three NCAA tourneys, reaching the Sweet 16 last season.

Arkansas (21-12) opened the SEC Tournament with a win over Missouri but lost 93-66 to top-ranked undefeated defending national champion South Carolina in the quarterfinals. The Razorbacks now wait to see if they will make their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, something they last did from 2001-03.


Besides the tournament championship games Tuesday in the Horizon League, Summit League and West Coast Conference:

Kansas (19-10) vs. TCU in a first-round game at the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday. The Jayhawks beat TCU in the regular-season finale Saturday and are still trying to ensure consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2012-13.

Ivy League semifinal games Friday: Princeton (21-5) vs. Penn, and Columbia (23-4) vs. Harvard. The games will be played at Princeton, where the top-seeded Tigers beat Penn 71-52 last week to win their 13th game in a row and clinch a share of their fifth consecutive Ivy League regular-season title. Co-champ Columbia has a five-game winning streak since losing to Princeton on Feb. 4. The Ivy League title game is Saturday.

Huggins reaches another coaching milestone, WVU beats Penn

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Ben Queen/USA TODAY Sports

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Erik Stevenson scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half and West Virginia used a fast start to beat Penn 92-58 Friday night, giving coach Bob Huggins another milestone win.

Huggins, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September, earned his 920th career victory, tying Jim Calhoun for third place all-time among Division I coaches behind only Jim Boeheim of Syracuse (999) and recently retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,202).

Tre Mitchell, Kedrian Johnson and Joe Toussaint each added 11 points for the Mountaineers (4-0).

Clark Slajchert led Ivy League preseason favorite Penn (1-4) with 20 points.

Mitchell scored nine points in the opening nine minutes, Stevenson had seven and the Mountaineers raced to a 28-9 lead. West Virginia used 13 players in the first half alone.

The lead grew to 52-31 at halftime.

West Virginia shot 64% (18 of 28) before halftime and 55.6% (30 of 54) for the game. Stevenson made his first eight field goals attempts and sat out most of the second half.

The teams had not met since 1981. Huggins faced an Ivy League school for the first time.


Penn: The Quakers were playing their fifth game in 12 days, including four on the road. Penn’s leading scorer, Jordan Dingle, sat out the game with a leg injury sustained in a win at Drexel on Tuesday.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers made four 3-pointers in their previous game against Morehead State. West Virginia made five in the first eight minutes against the Quakers and finished 12 of 23 (52%). But Huggins did not look pleased at times by his team’s defense. West Virginia was outrebounded 38-29.


Penn plays at Lafayette on Tuesday.

West Virginia faces Purdue in Portland, Oregon, on Thanksgiving night.

Jose Perez transfers from Manhattan to West Virginia for spring

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Guard Jose Perez has enrolled at West Virginia for the spring semester after leaving Manhattan following the firing of coach Steve Masiello.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins announced Perez’s enrollment, saying the player’s eligibility status for games and practices will be determined at a later date.

Perez is a 6-foot-5 fifth-year senior and was chosen as the preseason Player of the Year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. He averaged 18.9 points, 4.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game a year ago.

West Virginia is his fourth school. Perez spent two seasons at Gardner-Webb and one each at Marquette and Manhattan.

West Virginia lost its top four scorers from a year ago when it finished 16-17.

“Jose certainly gives us more fire power for our team,” Huggins said in a statement. “He’s a guy who can score the ball at different levels, he shoots the ball well, he drives it well and he scores it close. He’s another experienced guy who has played a lot of basketball. We think he will be a great fit.”

Masiello coached for 11 seasons at the New York school and was fired Oct. 25.

West Virginia (3-0) hosts Penn (1-3) on Friday night.