Stanford women get No. 1 seed, face UC Davis

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Stanford women get No. 1 seed, face UC Davis

March 14, 2011
(AP) -- The Stanford women's basketball team will begin its quest for a fourth consecutive Final Four with a first-round matchup against UC Davis on Saturday.

Stanford received a No. 1 seed Monday when the brackets were released for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Connecticut earned the No. 1 overall seed.

It was the second straight No. 1 seed for the Cardinal, who fell to UConn in the title game last season.

Tennessee, and Baylor are the other No. 1 seeds. The tournament begins Saturday.

Connecticut's path to a third straight national championship could include a renewal of the most heated rivalry in women's college basketball.

For Geno Auriemma to match Tennessee coach Pat Summitt with an eighth national championship he might have to go through her Lady Vols, who earned the top seed in the Dayton region. If both come through their regions, UConn and Tennessee could meet again in the national semifinals at Indianapolis.

Auriemma's Huskies didn't have to face Tennessee during its record 90-game winning streak that was ended by Stanford on Dec. 30. The two pre-eminent teams in the sport broke off their annual matchup in 2007 in a testy split.

First up for UConn is former star Jen Rizzotti and her Hartford Hawks, who won the America East title. The two teams have played each other over the last six years but didn't meet this season. Hartford is winless in 11 meetings against UConn.

The Huskies will be trying for their third consecutive title, matching their run from 2002-04 and Tennessee's from 1996-98. UConn is one of a record nine Big East teams in the field. The Big East got 11 men's teams in their field announced Sunday.

Unlike the men's bracket that expanded to 68 teams this year, the women decided to stick with 64. Indianapolis will host the Final Four on April 3 and 5.

The last time the Final Four was in Indianapolis, Baylor won the championship as a No. 2 seed.

The Lady Bears, led by sophomore center Brittney Griner, will face No. 16 Prairie View in their opener on Sunday in the Dallas region. No. 8 Houston will play No. 9 West Virginia, No. 5 Wisconsin-Green Bay takes on No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock, and No. 4 Michigan State plays No. 13 Missouri Valley champion Northern Iowa.

In the other part of the bracket, No. 6 Georgia takes on No. 11 Middle Tennessee State, which is still dealing with the death of Tina Stewart. Her Blue Raiders teammates played, and lost, their lone game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

No. 2 Texas A&M meets No. 15 McNeese State, No. 7 Rutgers plays No. 10 Louisiana Tech and No. 3 Florida State plays No. 14 Samford.

If the seeds hold, the Aggies and Lady Bears will meet for the fourth time this season. Baylor beat Texas A&M by a total of 15 points in their three meetings including a three-point win in the Big 12 title game.

Stanford, which opens against UC Davis, could also face UCLA for a fourth time this year. The Cardinal swept the No. 3 seed in Spokane three times, but the Bruins had a late lead in the Pac-10 title game on Saturday.

Tennessee will open at home in the Dayton region against No. 16 Stetson, which needed a 55-footer at the buzzer to advance to the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game. No. 8 Marquette will play No. 9 Texas in the other game in Knoxville.

No. 5 Georgia Tech will play No. 12 Bowling Green and No. 4 Ohio State faces No. 13 Central Florida. The Buckeyes have had a roller-coaster season, winning their first seven games before dropping seven of the next nine. They righted themselves and have won their last nine games capped by a Big Ten tournament title.

No. 2 Notre Dame plays No. 15 Utah and No. 7 Arizona State meets No. 10 Temple. Rounding out that part of the bracket, No. 3 Miami plays No. 14 Gardner-Webb and No. 6 Oklahoma plays No. 11 James Madison. The Sooners have made the Final Four the last two seasons.

In the Spokane region, No. 8 Texas Tech takes on No. 9 St. John's. Fifth-seeded North Carolina plays No. 12 Fresno State, and No. 4 Kentucky faces No. 13 Hampton.

No. 2 Xavier plays No. 15 South Dakota State, and No. 7 Louisville faces No. 10 Vanderbilt. Xavier lost to Stanford last season in the regional finals when the Musketeers missed two layups with the clock running down and the Cardinal hit a shot at the buzzer. No. 6 Iowa plays 11th-seeded Gonzaga while No. 3 UCLA takes on No. 14 Montana.

In the Philadelphia region, No. 8 Kansas State plays Purdue; fifth-seeded Georgetown takes on No. 12 Princeton; and No. 4 Maryland faces No. 13 Saint Francis, Pa. No. 2 Duke hosts 15th-ranked Tennessee-Martin, and No. 7 Iowa State plays 10th-seeded Marist. Finally, No. 6 Penn State hosts No. 11 Dayton and third-seeded DePaul faces No. 14 Navy.

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

ANAHEIM — As Yonder Alonso was preparing for the 2017 season last winter, he was tackling another challenge too.

Over the course of three months, the A’s first baseman gathered his thoughts and pieced together a fascinating first-person account for The Players’ Tribune about his childhood experience defecting from Cuba with his parents and younger sister.

Alonso framed the article as him penning a letter to his 8-year-old self, describing the grueling struggle he and his family would go through while reassuring his younger self that it would all be worth it when he finally made it as a major leaguer. Alonso describes in vivid detail the hardships he went through, caring for his sister, Yainee, at night as they dined on meals of microwaved hot dogs and microwaved eggs, while his parents were away from home working multiple jobs to support their family.

Alonso goes on to describe how he would return from college baseball road trips, while he was attending the University of Miami, and immediately head to a night job to help his father clean warehouses and scrub bathrooms.

The story struck a chord within the A’s clubhouse but also among so many people from the Miami area, where Alonso’s family settled after they defected. Alonso said he’s received text messages from many of them.

“I think everybody in this locker room, or any locker room, they definitely have a story to tell,” Alonso said. “And I think it’s awesome when you see a guy just kind of open up a little bit. I’m (usually) not one to open up.”

Athletes are used to reporters peppering them with questions and trying to draw stories out of them. Seldom do athletes take to penning their own story.

Representatives from The Players’ Tribune, an online publication started by Derek Jeter in 2014, reached out to Alonso in early December about writing something. Alonso had a trip planned to Cuba for later that month, before any request for an article came, and his return visit to his native country helped persuade him to go through with it.

“I saw a lot of people,” he said. “For me it was very touching. For my wife as well.”

Alonso met with an editor from The Players’ Tribune during spring training, and they began hashing out ideas. Alonso said he wrote the story himself with assistance from the editor.

“We had ideas, different ways of going about it,” he said. “I think from day one I knew the way I wanted to write it and how I wanted it to come out, which is a letter to my younger self.”

Even after finishing the project three weeks ago, Alonso said he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it publicly. He showed the article to some friends and teammates, including A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and outfielder Matt Joyce. After reading the piece, Joyce strongly persuaded Alonso to carry through with it.

“I told him it was awesome,” Joyce said. “From my perspective, you don’t really get a good sense of what those guys go through, coming over to the States. You just see them later. So to kind of read it in his own words, it was a really cool perspective and a good story to see what a kid across the water, from a different country, goes through to get to this point. I think it’s a very powerful story and message.”

Alonso said his motivation was simple.

“Just letting my family know, and people in this world know, that if you want to strive for something, it can be tough at times. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Programming note: Dodgers-Giants coverage starts today at 11:30am with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Dave Roberts and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series finale at AT&T Park:

Dodgers (10-12)
1. Enrique Hernandez (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Scott Van Slyke (R) 1B
8. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
9. Julio Urias (L) P

Giants (8-14) 
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Moore (L) P (1-3, 5.87 ERA)