The beginning of college season - or any season, really - is full of optimism, which is always exciting to see among the teams themselves.
But that also means piles of near-meaningless fluff stories from the media.
You can't blame anyone for that: it's hard to write much that's very specific at this point and of course everyone is [insert preseason cliche about expectations, preparation, or starting over fresh here].
So throughout the week I've tried to extract a few of the more interesting tidbits from all the fluff with an eye on the 2015 WNBA Draft - I'll tip my hand a bit on who I'll be watching closely this year, not that I'd deviate much from the mainstream consensus anyway (ranking the players, maybe, but I don't think there's much disagreement about the set of top prospects itself).
We've already been cross-posting articles from other SB Nation sites on our front page - and if you ever see one of interest, do let us know - but here are a few others from beyond the confines of our network.
- John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant reported on Tuesday that while everyone seems to have just accepted that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the top prospect for the 2015 WNBA Draft, "...many coaches and front offices types have privately expressed concerns about her physical readiness for the jump to the pro game." Read more >>>
- In an article posted at NCAA.com on Wednesday, Altavilla followed up that point by writing that a large part of Mosqueda-Lewis' offseason training program, "...was improving her physical conditioning. "She's had a lot of experience in the past getting herself ready for the start of practice," Auriemma said. "And people's bodies change as they get older. They start to understand what they can do and what they can't do. ... It was a long summer. She's put in a lot of effort and she's getting things done she struggled to do last year." Read more >>>
- Later that evening in an article for the Courant, Altavilla added, "Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis looks fine and feels fine and let’s leave it at that. Not everybody is gifted with a body like Kiah Stokes, remember. She says she is happy with the work she did this summer with Amanda Kimball, the strength and conditioning coach, and is ready to show her doubters that All-Americans come in all kinds of packages. Time will tell. But she is very happy." Read more >>>
- One of the most interesting tidbits of the week was this from Chris Wellbaum of Gamecock Central: "Staley has been experimenting with a jumbo lineup that features four of her post players on the court at the same time. It would have some combination of centers Elem Ibiam, Jatarie White, and Coates, with forward Aleighsa Welch and guard/forward A'ja Wilson. Welch and Wilson are good enough ball-handlers on the perimeter that the lineup could work. However, Staley emphasized that the lineup is just an experiment for now, to be used only in half-court situations." That's interesting for both senior draft prospects there, if that's something thy use with any sort of regularity: it means Ibiam won't have to worry about losing too many minutes in that loaded frontcourt and Welch might be able to show off her perimeter skills a bit. Read more >>>
- Greg Wickliffe of Central Michigan Life reported that Central Michigan star Crystal Bradford is feeling fine after suffering a knee injury late last season: "Senior guard and Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Crystal Bradford appeared healthy and comfortable in her return to the court. Bradford missed last year’s MAC Championship Tournament due to a knee injury. "I feel good," she said. "When you come back it’s a mental thing. If you just play like you got two regular knees, you’ll be fine."" There was some measure of uncertainty about her health entering the season, but in a weak draft year she might be someone to keep an eye on. Read more >>>
- Joedy McCreary of the AP reports that Duke senior Elizabeth Williams will have plenty of opportunity to show off this season as the focal point of a Blue Devils team that lost four starters from last year's team: "This post-centric team will revolve around Williams — a center and three-time ACC defensive player of the year — and the Blue Devils hope some complementary pieces develop between now and the Nov. 16 opener at Alabama. "I don't think we'll be as fast-break-oriented," McCallie said. "The ball getting down the floor on the pass, that should be very good. There will definitely be some interesting differences offensively, but to highlight the points in the paint will be critical. I feel you win games with points in the paint."" Read more >>>
- Scott Dochterman of The Gazette got quotes from Iowa coach Lisa Bluder about star point guard Samantha Logic, who was selected as a preseason all-conference player by Big Ten coaches and media. "I’ve been around Sam for three years now and she continues to amaze me at what she does," Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. "I think she’s one of the most complete point guards out there in that she leads our team in assists and rebounds and steals. Those are amazing statistics. She’s one of the leading passers returning in the country." Read more >>>
- Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press revisited the comparisons between Minnesota star Rachel Banham and WOMEN'S BASKETBALL LEGEND Lindsay Whalen on Thursday. "Banham, a senior guard from Lakeville, on Thursday became the first Gophers player since Whalen to be named Big Ten preseason player of the year...The 5-foot-9 guard averaged a league-best 23.3 points per game last season and has 1,993 career points. Banham, a unanimous selection by media and coaches, made the preseason all-conference team for the third year in a row." See, Minnesota? Good things happen when you recruit homegrown talent and keep them in-state. Read more >>>
- Not draft related, but Joe Pequeno of CBS5AZ reported on Monday that Arizona State will be holding a jersey retirement ceremony for Kym Hampton in December. From ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne: "Her play has more than stood the test of time, especially when you consider that her scoring record came in an era when the 3-pointer did not exist in the college game. Even more impressive than that is the fact that her career scoring and rebounding totals exceed those of any other player in the history of both of ASU's basketball programs." Read more >>>
- I just like KJ so this is cool.
There were obviously many, many other articles throughout the week that you probably also thought were cool. Feel free to drop the links in the comments below or create a fanshot that we can share more widely. Also, fan posts about the 2015 WNBA Draft and who you'll be watching are always welcome.