Gabrielle Wener joins wave of Maine players succeeding in Division I women’s college basketball

Imagine taking a final exam, but all the classes leading up to it were canceled. Good luck.

That’s essentially where Gabrielle Wener was heading into this women’s basketball season, her first with Division I Monmouth University. The pandemic wiped out summer sessions for the team, forcing the newcomers to play catch-up, and fast.

“It’s definitely been crazy, it’s been very intense,” she said. “My freshman class was definitely thrown into this. … We’ve had to take on a lot in a short amount of time.”

If the season opener were any indication, Wener is handling the learning curve. The former Messalonskee standout started in Monmouth’s first game, playing 23 minutes in the Hawks’ 82-38 loss to Rutgers on Friday. Wener scored seven points on 2-of-4 shooting, both 3-pointers, while notching two rebounds and a team-high three assists.

“My coaches were able to trust in my play, and I was able to execute,” she said. “I had a feeling (I’d start), but (coach Jody Craig) didn’t say anything directly to me, so I didn’t really get the confirmation until I looked on the board and I saw my name as a starter. That was really cool, though.”

Maine players making an impact in Division I women’s basketball has become something of a trend. Gorham’s Mackenzie Holmes has become a core player for No. 13 Indiana, earning Big Ten All-Freshman recognition last year and netting a team-high 26 points in the Hoosiers’ opener last Wednesday.

Greely’s Anna DeWolfe started last year as a freshman for Fordham and had a team-high 25 points in the Rams’ opener Wednesday, and Boothbay’s Faith Blethen likewise started in her first year at George Washington and has started all three games for the Colonials this season. Sanford’s Paige Cote is the first player off the bench as a freshman for the University of New Hampshire, and Gorham’s Emily Esposito will be a redshirt junior at Boston University after playing all 32 games in her freshman year at Villanova.

“I feel like Maine is very underrated,” Wener said. “There’s a lot of great talent in Maine. Sometimes I think it’s hard to get that exposure.”

Wener got it with her time at both Messalonskee and the Firecrackers AAU team, but she still had work to do handling the challenges of the Division I level — particularly the mental side of the sport.

“There are countless plays,” she said. “There’s a lot to learn, and figure out (with) new habits you need to get into and old habits you need to break, in order to be quicker and more effective at this level.”

As both a forward and a guard, Wener has had to learn all those plays, and from a variety of angles.

“With every single set play, I have to learn it in the 2 spot, the 3 spot and the 4 spot,” she said. “If we have five plays, let’s say, I have to learn it basically in 15 total positions.”

Wener’s coaches kept reinforcing that

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Thanksgiving weekend: How former Oregon high school players are faring in Division 1 college football

In October we posted a list of the nearly 100 athletes we found on Division I FBS college football rosters in 2020.

This week and throughout this strange, coronavirus-altered college football season, we’ll focus on the former Oregon high school football players logging stats at the Division 1 FBS level this season.

Oregon-Oregon State on the day after Thanksgiving was the marquee matchup, with the Beavers scoring a 41-38 upset of the Ducks.

Read on to find out which local kids played in Thanksgiving weekend’s FBS games.

Cody Anderson, Oregon State

Junior

Defensive lineman

Thurston High School

Anderson has played in all four of the Beavers’ games but hasn’t recorded any stats.

Trevon Bradford, Oregon State

Senior

Wide receiver

Oregon City High School

Bradford had his best game of the season in the Beavers’ 41-38 win over the Ducks, making eight catches for 93 yards and adding two carries for 14 yards along with a 23-yard punt return. Bradford leads the Pac-12 with 21 catches and is fifth in receiving yards with 219.

Chase Cota, UCLA

Junior

Wide receiver

South Medford High School

Cota has played in all four games for the Bruins this season, but Saturday’s 27-10 win was the first in which he made no catches.

MJ Cunningham, Oregon

Sophomore

Linebacker

Madison High School

Cunningham played in Oregon’s 41-38 loss Friday at Oregon State but didn’t record any stats. He’s played in three games this season and made one tackle.

Casey Filkins, Stanford

Freshman

Running back

Lake Oswego High School

Filkins played in Stanford’s 24-23 win Friday over Cal but didn’t record any stats. He’s played in three games this season and has one catch for minus-6 yards.

Alex Forsyth, Oregon

Junior

Offensive lineman

West Linn High School

Forsyth started at center again for the Ducks, who rushed for 183 yards in their loss to the Beavers.

Anthony Gould, Oregon State

Redshirt freshman

Wide receiver

West Salem

Gould got in his first game of the season in Friday’s win over Oregon, as he started at wide receiver but didn’t record any stats.

Jaydon Grant, Oregon State

Junior

Defensive back

West Linn High School

Grant continued to be one of the Beavers’ best defensive players this season, as he made four tackles and grabbed his second interception of the season.

Daniel Green, Kansas State

Sophomore

Linebacker

Madison High School

Green had a career game Saturday at Baylor, making 13 tackles (2.5 for loss) and getting 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup in the Wildcats’ crushing 32-31 loss. Green has 38 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 2.5 sacks this season.

Jordan Happle, Oregon

Senior

Safety

Jesuit High School

Happle followed up his week as Pac-12 defensive player of the week with another solid game Friday at Oregon State, making seven tackles to give him 24 on the season.

Nate Heaukulani, Oregon

Senior

Linebacker

Jesuit High School

Heaukulani got in his second game of the season in Friday’s loss at

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Solskjaer: Cavani incident shows players need more education

Manchester United's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during an English Premier League soccer match between Southampton and Manchester United at the St. Mary's stadium in Southampton, England, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Mike Hewitt, Pool via AP)

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during an English Premier League soccer match between Southampton and Manchester United at the St. Mary’s stadium in Southampton, England, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Mike Hewitt, Pool via AP)

AP

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer supported the Football Association’s decision to look into Edinson Cavani’s use of a Spanish term for Black people in a social-media post, saying it was important for players in English soccer to be educated about discrimination.

Cavani apologized for the contents of a message he posted on Instagram Stories after scoring twice in United’s 3-2 victory at Southampton on Sunday, saying it was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend and adding he was opposed to racism.

The FA has asked Cavani to explain the use of the term he posted, and Solskjaer said the club will support the striker over what the United manager described as “one of those unfortunate situations.”

“He has just come into the country and in Uruguay (the term) is used in a different affection than what we have,” Solskjaer said on Tuesday.

“We will support him but we support the FA. It is important that the FA have asked him to explain and that it is out there for everyone to see. We want to be in the fight against discrimination against everyone.”

Former United defender Gary Neville, who is a TV pundit in Britain, has questioned why a system has not been put in place to educate players — especially those arriving from different countries — about diversity and inclusion.

“We hear the words education, we hear the words training,” Neville said, “and still football is incapable of putting a curriculum in place for its players, for its members, and for its fans that is compulsory.”

Solskjaer was in agreement.

“Maybe all the players coming from different cultures should be educated,” he said, “and I’m sure Edinson has learnt the hard way.”

The issue has placed a cloud over Cavani ahead of United’s match against Paris Saint-Germain — the French club where he spent seven years and is the record scorer with 200 in 301 appearances — in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Cavani might feel he has a point to prove to PSG after losing his place in the team last season after the arrival of Mauro Icardi, which led to him refusing to extend his expiring contract by a couple of months to enable him to be involved in the pandemic-delayed finale to last season’s Champions League. PSG reached the final, losing to Bayern Munich.

“That will affect him mentally and from knowing him that will give him energy,” Solskjaer said. “He will be ready. He is so professional, experienced. He will work on his mindset.

“The same goes for the FA. He has learnt a lesson — it might affect him but he will have to put it to one side when the game is on. The best players, they

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Bias leads 6 players, 2 coaches into college hoops Hall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maryland basketball star Len Bias, who was chosen No. 2 by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft before dying days later of a drug overdose, was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Bias leads a group of six players and two coaches that will be enshrined in Kansas City next November.

The other players to make up the class are Hersey Hawkins, who scored more than 3,000 points during his career at Bradley; UCLA’s David Greenwood, the No. 2 pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 1979 draft; Jim Jackson, the two-time Big Ten player of the year at Ohio State; Antawn Jameson, who led North Carolina to back-to-back Final Fours; and Kansas star Paul Pierce, who went on to play 19 years in the NBA, mostly with the Celtics.

The two coaches selected for the Hall of Fame were Rick Byrd, who won 805 games at Maryville, Lincoln Memorial and Belmont, and Tom Penders, who took four different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

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LSU Standout Players: Cordale Flott, Micah Baskerville Turn in Career Outings Against Texas A&M

As the LSU defense kept turning away the Texas A&M offense that entered Saturday’s game as one of the more efficient offenses in the country, the Tigers had many players flash brilliance. That’s what happens when you clamp down on a team for just 13 points and 267 yards of total offense. 

A number of the LSU players turned in stellar performances against the Aggies but these three stick out above the rest. 

Cordale Flott (CB)

The sophomore cornerback quite simply had his best game as a Tiger against the Aggies, recording eight tackles, one tackle for a loss and a pair of pass breakups. He just jumped off the screen all night, not allowing hardly any completions throughout the course of the game and was a big reason behind holding Kellen Mond to 105 yards passing on 32% completion percentage. 

Flott, along with Derek Stingley Jr., picked up the slack in the secondary with freshman Elias Ricks limited throughout the night with an injury. It was the unit that coach Ed Orgeron called the most improved group on the field which was nice to see after six games riddled with inconsistency and explosive plays.

The longest passing play the secondary surrendered was 18 yards on Saturday and that was due to improved communication and man-to-man coverage.

“We’re gonna keep fighting every week to get better,” Baskerville said after the game. “The preparations throughout the week with communication really helped.”

Micah Baskerville (LB)

It seems with every passing week Baskerville gets more and more comfortable with his role in the starting rotation. Against Texas A&M, Baskerville turned in his most complete performance to date, recording 12 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble in the first half on fourth-and-goal. 

That play was a turning point in the first half as the Aggies were threatening to go up 17-0 at that time but LSU was able to adjust course and flip the momentum, even though it was short lived. 

“We worked on that play all week because they were like 100% on it and we had a plan going in on not letting them get that on us,” Baskerville said. “That was a big energy boost for the team.”

The linebacker play out of Baskerville and Jabril Cox was one of the more impressive of the game as, with the exception of two runs, the LSU defense was able to hold Isaiah Spiller in check. Not only was the run defense much improved but Baskerville and Cox did a nice job in coverage with Spiller and some of the tight ends on passing plays as well. 

Though the team sits at 3-4 and is in danger of letting this season slip completely out of control, Baskerville says the main goal moving forward is to just keep working to get better.

“We’re staying together, just positive thoughts and getting better and we’re just a couple of plays away from winning the game,” Baskerville said. “We’re gonna keep pushing to

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‘Stay your path’: How TU’s Zaven Collins developed from an under-the-radar recruit into one of the best players in college football | TU Sports Extra



Tulsa UCF Football (copy) -- p1

As a fourth-year junior, Zaven Collins is producing an all-America season with stats that are staggering for six games, what equates to half a year: 48 tackles including 10.5 for lost yardage and four sacks; four interceptions with two pick-sixes; a forced fumble and a safety. Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP file


HOMINY — The date is tattooed on Haley Collins’ brain, like a loved one’s birthday or a significant anniversary: July 22, 2016.

“I’ll never forget that day,” she said. “It changed our lives.”

In a matter of hours, her son’s path would go a different direction — one that would allow him to live out his dream of playing college football after nearly giving up on it altogether.

More than four years later, Zaven Collins is the unassuming star of the University of Tulsa football team during a surprise turnaround season, a big-bodied linebacker from a small town in line for national recognition and on the verge of an NFL career.

“I’m just grateful to be here,” Collins said. “If not, I would probably still be in Hominy working in the oilfield or doing something along those means. I’m pretty thankful to be where I’m at.”

Hominy, located in Osage County about 45 minutes northwest of Tulsa, has a footprint of about 2 square miles. It’s known for a tradition-rich football history that includes the Hominy Indians, a professional team that defeated the New York Giants in 1927, and a high school program that has claimed five state championships — most recently in 2016, when Collins was a senior who quarterbacked the Bucks to the Class A gold ball.



Baby photo -- p5

Zaven Collins was born May 19, 1999, at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. COURTESY/Haley Collins


The population of Hominy is estimated at 3,500, but close to a third of that comes from the prison on the north side of town. Most of the residents have lived in the town their whole lives, including Zaven’s mother and his entire family.

Haley Collins was 21 when she got pregnant, not exactly something that was planned. She was inspired to get her life on track, going back to school and working as a bailiff while she finished her degree.

“I knew I needed a job to raise my child the way I wanted to raise him,” she said.

After Zaven was born at St. Francis in Tulsa, he was nameless for three days because the rest of the family wasn’t sold on the name, which his mom came across while working as a secretary at an interior design company. Eventually everyone else came around on it, and his big smile lit up their lives.

“He was a good kid,” Haley Collins said. “He always wanted to make people laugh, ever since he was a baby.”

Zaven grew up without a father but didn’t let it affect him. His dad, also a Hominy native, has never been in the picture.



High school graduation -- p2

Zaven Collins and his mom, Haley, pose for a photo at Zaven’s Hominy graduation

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Ed Orgeron, LSU Players Aim to Put Past Behind Them In Return to College Station

It’s been two years since that seven overtime albatross of a Saturday night at Kyle Field yet coach Ed Orgeron still remembers it like it was yesterday. It was a game that LSU felt it had won on three, even four different occasions but when the final play was over, it was the Aggies who had squeaked out a 74-72 win.

Now, LSU returns to the scene of the crime and Orgeron stressed on Monday that putting that game and all the emotions that came with it behind them, is the most critical thing to do. 

“I thought about it this morning, to be honest with you, when I saw the film and I saw the stadium, some thoughts came by,” Orgeron said. “But you know what, it’s my job to be able to prevent problems this week, have a great practice and not allow those things to happen that happened to us last time. And we’re going to have to go and play our best game.”

Orgeron and the Tigers experienced every possible emotion from joy to anger to fatigue and ultimately, dejection. LSU thought it had the game won in regulation when Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw an interception to Grant Delpit with seconds remaining, only to be called back because Mond’s leg had been down before he threw the pass.

That was just the beginning of an exhausting back and forth game that after seven overtimes, concluded with a postgame fist fight and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow passing out from exhaustion and dehydration that required an IV in the postgame locker room.

“It’s going to be on,” Orgeron said a year later. “I’ll never forget that game last year. We’re going to be ready. There was nothing we could do about the end of that game, we felt helpless.”

Wide receiver Jaray Jenkins remembers what that evening was like, even though he was watching from the sidelines the entire time. He was a redshirt freshman in 2018 and was not playing much but remembers that expression of exhaustion that he could sense on all of the players and coaches after the game. 

But this week, the 2018 game was something that he said Orgeron hasn’t brought up too much. Because Orgeron knows how important it is to not hark on the past experience and focus on this week.

“He just said that we know what this game is gonna take,” Jenkins said. “It was a long game, seven overtimes, but we’re not trying to get it there [this time]. We’re trying to get out, get the victory and head back.”

Center Liam Shanahan wasn’t a part of the team two years ago but has been fully briefed on the LSU-Texas A&M rivalry and how much the two sides don’t like each other. The longest game Shanahan has ever played were a few overtime games while at Harvard so he can’t really fathom what it must be like to play in a seven overtime thriller. 

“It’s a

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College basketball season is back, so here’s to the players, who want and deserve this more than anyone else

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The longest, rockiest, most dramatic offseason in college basketball history is finally behind us.

It’s over. Forever in our rearview mirror. 

The date now reads Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Today is the day college basketball again has a season. No major American sport — team or individual — had a longer halt than college hoops. March 12, the day the NCAA Tournament was canceled and the day all sports in America went on ice, was 258 days ago. 

We finally made it. 

Thank you, college basketball, for being back in our lives. Thank you for finding a way back — even if plenty of us doubted whether it was truly going to happen. Thanks for being here during the week of Thanksgiving, when the sport helps make up the tapestry and adorns the edges of a sports viewing experience dominated by professional and college football. It’s going to look a lot different. There are no games happening in Maui or the Bahamas. Final Four contenders Baylor, Duke and Tennessee had to push off playing on opening day due to COVID-19. No, there will be no normal for the next three, four, five or maybe even six months (if the NCAA Tournament winds up not happening until April or May).

But the season is here now, and damn does that feel good to write. It’s been hard to dodge the negative news that’s pelted college basketball on a near-daily basis for the past month-plus. And that news should be taken seriously. This is a global pandemic. The sport has been struggling to get off the runway, but that bird will fly. Amid all the noise, keep this in mind: more than 80 games between two D-I teams are scheduled for Wednesday, and another 34 vs. non-Division I opponents are slated on top of that. Across the country we will have college basketball. Sure, by the time you read this we might have lost another two, three or five games. 

This will seem like a bigger deal in college basketball because the sport has 357 teams. College football has 130. The NFL has 32. The NHL has 31. The NBA and Major League Baseball have 30. This sport is bursting with 357 teams in 49 states and is going to try and hold a season as winter approaches and the coronavirus situation is worsening in every state in America. College basketball will worry about going to an all-out controlled environment by the time the NCAA Tournament comes. For now, it will be patchwork, it will be messy, but the powers-that-be have determined that there must be games. 

We are having a season. It starts today. 

There will be criticism. Some of it will be justified.

But we will have games.

I had a chance to speak with Virginia coach Tony Bennett, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley and Rhode Island coach David Cox after their practices here at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday. We hit on a couple different

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Two Georgetown players think college basketball should have a bubble

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced several sports leagues and organizations across the globe to get creative for a competitive season. For Georgetown men’s basketball players Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair, they believe that the entire college basketball season should be held within a bubble. 

“I think the NBA set a great example with the bubble,” Pickett told the media during a Tuesday Zoom call. “I think college should implement the same type of format to keep the players, coaches and staff and everyone else involved as safe as possible.” 

Several professional leagues decided to hold their 2020 seasons within the confines of a bubble-like environment amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Each of those leagues – the NBA, WNBA, NHL and others – were wildly successful in curbing the spread of the virus. Other leagues that did not opt for a bubble, like MLB and the NFL, haven’t been able to keep the virus from affecting their teams. 

Within a bubble, the respective league had regular COVID-19 testing, strict protocols on who could and could not enter the space and mask-wearing in all instances except when playing. 

“If we follow the NBA and what they did, I think we should be fine,” Blair said. “Everyone gets tested every day in the bubble, everyone’s going to be safe and in one spot. So if we follow them everything should be fine.”

Already, college basketball has had 39 programs pause basketball activities due to the virus, according to SBUnfurled’s database. That’s in addition to the 10 teams that decided they would not be having a season altogether. 

 

Some preseason tournaments are creating small bubbles with regular testing for teams to knock out a handful of nonconference games without issue. Still, individuals are testing positive before the event and with the way the NCAA has set up the season, one positive test typically forces an entire team to sit out for two weeks. 

To help control the environment and the spread, many schools have limited the amount of individuals on a college campus. It’s not necessarily for collegiate athletics, but is an added benefit for basketball programs looking to create their own bubble of individuals. 

Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing thinks his school has been more strict than others. The Hoyas have had the same protocols since Day 1.

“I think that’s one of the things that Georgetown has been a stickler with. Our protocols have been the same since Day 1, we’ve been testing three times a week,” Ewing said.

“They’re a stickler about masks, socially distance and when they see people not socially distanced and on campus, they talk about it or they bring it up to them. They only brought back 500 kids to the campus so there’s not a lot of people here. So you know, in terms of distancing, socially distancing, it’s a lot easier to do that when there’s not a lot of people here.”

In a sense, the Hoyas have created a mini-bubble on their own

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USA TODAY Sports’ preseason All-America teams for men’s college basketball: 15 must-watch players

With the 2020-21 men’s college basketball season set to tip off Wednesday  – two weeks later than scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic – USA TODAY Sports provides its preseason All-America list. 



a person holding a basketball: Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) gestures during the second half a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Breslin Center.


© Mike Carter, USA TODAY Sports
Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) gestures during the second half a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Breslin Center.

After an unusual offseason, most of the first team is led by key returnees with the sport seeing an uptick in veterans this season. That’s especially true in the Big Ten, as five of the 15 players on the three preseason teams play in that league. 

There are still one-and-done freshmen on the list, although fewer than previous years. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, a second-team selection, will be the must-watch freshman this season. The do-everything guard is expected to make an immediate impact on his way to the 2021 NBA draft. 

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

FIRST TEAM

*G Jared Butler, Baylor. There’s a reason the Bears are No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll. Butler is the lead returnee on coach Scott Drew’s national title contender. Butler averaged 16 points and 3.1 assists per game in 2019-20. 

*G Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois. The Illini are poised for a breakout season and the 6-5 junior guard is a driving force for coach Brad Underwood’s team. Dosunmu averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season. If Illinois does big things this season, Dosunmu will be a major reason why. 

Gallery: The college hoops conference favorites for 2020-21 (Yardbarker)

*F Corey Kispert, Gonzaga. The ‘Zags are a national title threat, and Kispert is a key cog for a team that thrives based on all of its pieces coming together. . Kispert is a high-level three-point shooter, and at 6-7, can stretch the floor as a catalyst in coach Mark Few’s free-flowing offensive system. 

*F Sam Hauser, Virginia. The Marquette transfer averaged 14.9 points a game last year and has shot 44.5% from three-point range in three years. He’ll fit in perfectly in coach Tony Bennett’s methodical offense and be a key for a Cavs group looking to challenge for the ACC title. 

*F/C Luka Garza, Iowa. Garza was the runner-up for national player of the year behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin last year, and he’ll be a front runner for that award again on a Big Ten title favorite. Garza averaged 24 points and 9.8 rebounds last season and is the centerpiece on Iowa’s balanced roster. 

SECOND TEAM

  • G Collin Gillespie, Villanova
  • G Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
  • G BJ Boston, Kentucky
  • G Remy Martin, Arizona State
  • C Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

THIRD TEAM

  • G Marcus Garrett, Kansas
  • G Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton
  • G Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
  • F Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana 
  • F/C Nate Reuvers, Wisconsin

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA TODAY Sports’ preseason All-America teams

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