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London Lions capture first EuroCup Women championship



Here’s a look at the major happenings from the past week in women’s basketball:

Caldwell completes rapid rise to Rocky Top

Last Sunday, Tennessee announced that Kim Caldwell will be the fourth head coach of the Lady Vols program.

Caldwell’s arrival on Rocky Top is a testament to her rapid rise up the coaching ranks. In eight seasons at the helm at Division II Glenville State, her alma mater, she led the Pioneers to 191 wins, six regular-season conference titles, four conference tournament titles, two Division II Final Fours and a Division II national title in 2022. She executed a swift improvement in her one season at Marshall, taking the Thundering Herd to a 26-7 record, winning both the Sun Belt regular season and tournament titles and earning a NCAA Tournament berth.

Caldwell will be expected to put her imprint—a high-pace, 3-point shooting offense and high-pressure, turnover-generating defense—on the Lady Vols, restoring the program back to the pinnacle of women’s college basketball.

At Marshall, Juli Fulks has been named Caldwell’s replacement. After dipping into the Division II waters when hiring Caldwell, Marshall athletic director turned to Division III Transylvania to hire Fulks. The 2023-24 Division III Coach of the Year, she led Transylvania to a 33-1 record and the Division III Final Four for the second-straight season. Fulks and Transylvania won the Division III national championship last season.

More college coach retirements

Stanfords’s Tara VanDerveer will be joined in retirement by Green Bay’s Kevin Borseth and Tulane’s Lisa Stockton.

Over a 37-year career, Borseth accumulated 821 wins. He spent 21 seasons in charge at Green Bay across two separate stints, steering the Phoenix to more than 500 wins and 13 NCAA Tournament appearances from 1998 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2024. From 2007 to 2012, he was the head coach at Michigan. He began his coaching career at Michigan Tech in 1987.

Stockton served as Tulane’s head coach for 30 years, winning 591 games and leading the Green Wave to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. She retires as the winningest women’s basketball coach in the state of Louisiana. Before coming to Tulane, she coached at the Division III level and worked at an assistant at Georgia Tech in the early 1990s.

The portal is popping

Over 1,200 athletes (and counting) currently are in the women’s basketball transfer portal. Some of more prominent players who have entered the portal over the past week include Stanford’s Kiki Iriafen, Oregon State’s Raegen Beers, UNC’s Deja Kelly, Villanova’s Lucy Olsen and Michigan’s Laila Phelia.

Team USA to face Germany in pre-Olympic tune-up

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team is set to play the German Women’s National Team in London on July 23. The game will be part of the 2024 USA Basketball Showcase, a series of games that will help the women’s and men’s national teams prepare for Olympic competition.

Team USA also will hold their final pre-Olympic training camp in Phoenix before WNBA All-Star Weekend, when the Olympic squad will compete against the WNBA All-Stars in the league’s All-Star Game on July 20.

Recruit rankings, Nike Hoop Summit check-in

It’s never to early to imagine what the next generation of women hoopers might do. Premier Basketball and ESPN have released the early spring rankings update for the classes of 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027.

Recent UConn commit Sarah Strong remains at the top for 2024, with Ohio State’s Jaloni Cambridge at No. 2 and South Carolina’s Joyce Edwards, the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year, at No. 3.

A number of the most-heralded members of class of 2024 have spent the weekend at the Nike Hoop Summit, representing both Team USA and the World Select Team. Although Strong and Cambridge were not in action, Team USA secured the 17-point comeback victory over World Team Select in the second-annual Nike Hoop Summit women’s game on Saturday. The Americans were led by 25 points from Edwards and 24 points from No. 6-ranked Kennedy Smith, a future USC Trojan.

Back to the rankings, Aaliyah Chavez, a 5-foot-9 guard from Texas, leads the class of 2025, followed by 6-foot-4 Sienna Betts, a UCLA commit who is the sister of the Bruins’ Lauren Betts, at No. 2. Jerzy Robinson, a 6-foot-1 guard who is following in the footsteps of JuJu Watkins as a prep star at Sierra Canyon, is No. 1 in the class of 2026, while Kaleena Smith, a 5-foot-5 point guard, is turning heads for the class of 2027.

London Lions roar back to claim EuroCup Women crown

It was a thrilling EuroCup Women Finals, with the London Lions winning the two-game championship set by an aggregate score of 149-145. With the triumph, the Lions became the first British club to win a continental title.

Besiktas prevailed 75-68 in Game 1 on April 3, pleasing the sold-out crowd in Istanbul. However, London squeaked out a small victory within the defeat. Once down by as many as 18 points in the second half, they eventually trimmed the margin. In the aggregate scoring format, overcoming a seven-point deficit, rather than an 18-point deficit, put the Lions in better position ahead of Game 2, which was held on April 10 in London.

On Wednesday, London eventually established the necessary advantage in a back-and-forth affair, securing an 11-point win, 81-70. Down the stretch, the Lions clung to an approximately 10-point edge, but timely shots from Besiktas prevented them from pulling away. A late 3-pointer from Holly Winterburn finally sealed it for London.

Winterburn was one of four Lions who scored in double figures in Game 2, as she finished with 13 points and nine boards. Temi Fagbenle posted 17 points and eight boards, while Megan Gustafson tallied 18 points and seven boards. Karlie Samuelson, named EuroCup Women Finals MVP, had a game-high 19 points, with the known 3-point sharp shooter doing all her damage inside the arc.

Recent news also ensures that British women’s hoops fans can keep up with their favorites as they suit up in the WNBA. On Tuesday, the WNBA announced that TNT Sports will broadcast at least 16 regular-season WNBA games in the UK and Ireland as part of a multi-year agreement. Coverage of the WNBA Playoffs and WNBA All-Star Game also will be available.

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