January 31, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Jan. 31, 2022: Centers of attention — Stefanie Dolson, Mercedes Russell sign with New York, Seattle

Louisville romps

It’s Monday, I’m sorry. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap! Day 83 of college basketball is here, following a couple big the 23rd triple-double of the season, a 40-point double-overtime outburst, Stanford’s top-ten win, and a competitive day through the ACC. Today we’ve got a possible shootout in Iowa City, Iowa, Indiana’s first big test without top center Mackenzie Holmes in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a “styles makes fights” over in Knoxville, Tenn. But first — a couple top centers got plucked off the market.

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W Roundup

Free agency

  • Stefanie Dolson: Will sign with New York for multiple years, per The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings. The center brings floor-spacing and schematic flexibility to a lineup that was sorely undersized last year with big Natasha Howard playing center, though the exact terms of the contract may limit additions to a roster currently bound for purgatory. Our median contract prediction for Dolson was a two-year deal for $150,000 per year.
  • Mercedes Russell: Will return to Seattle on a multi-year deal, per Rachel Galligan. After an up 2019 and a down 2020, the center had a breakout 2021 as one of the best finishers and trap/hedge bigs in the league. Russell also refined her passing and general basketball IQ, allowing herself to operate in space on both ends without being a liability, a rarity for someone at 6-foot-6. We reported two days ago that Russell’s top choice was to re-sign with the Storm, and I’d noted all offseason long that head coach Noelle Quinn wanted her back and she fit the front office’s timeline well. Our median contract prediction for Russell was a two-year deal for $150,000 per year, a figure which should allow the Storm to remain active in the mid-level free agent market even with franchise cornerstones Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd on supermaxes. If Russell comes in under that figure, Seattle could have room to add another wing like Stephanie Talbot; if she comes in over, the Storm will have to really nail their next two drafts.
Note: TDB is compiled before the weekly AP Poll. All rankings herein are as of Jan. 30.

(All times in Eastern)

Watch List, Monday, Jan. 31


#22 Ohio State @ #23 Iowa, 9 p.m., BTN

Good games

Arkansas @ #4 Tennessee, 7 p.m., SEC Network

Also watchable

#6 Indiana @ #7 Michigan, 7 p.m., ESPN2 — IU without Holmes takes a big hit

Sickos games


Sunday, Jan. 30 recap

#1 South Carolina: 62-50 win over Florida. Shot just 35.7% from the field and 23.1% from three, but held the Gators to 30.8% and 18.2%, respectively; grabbed 56 rebounds, double that of Florida; committed 21 turnovers; drew 20 fouls. Won the first quarter 19-3. Center Aliyah Boston led with her 14th-straight double-double with 13 points on 4-for-12 from the field (1-2 3pt., 4-6 FT) and 19 rebounds, plus two assists and three blocks against three turnovers; wing Zia Cooke scored 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting (1-5 3pt.) against two turnovers; point guard Destanni Henderson had seven points on 2-for-9 FG (1-4 3pt.), five rebounds, and five assists against three turnovers.

#2 Stanford, #8 Arizona: The Cardinal beat the Wildcats, 75-69. The teams combined to shoot 48.7% from the field and 47.1% from three; Stanford was a +8 in rebounding margin; the Cardinal committed 18 turnovers; the Wildcats committed 19 fouls.

Center Cameron Brink led Stanford a 25-point, 15-rebound double-double on 10-for-12 FG (1-1 3pt.) with five offensive boards, two assists, two steals, and three blocks against two turnovers; off-ball guard Jana Van Gytenbeek played 28 points off the bench, finishing with 18 points on 6-for-8 from three (0-2 from two) — all career-highs; point wing Haley Jones struggled to four points on 2-for-12 shooting (0-1 3pt.), seven rebounds, six assists, and two blocks against six turnovers; starting off-ball guard Hannah Jump remained out in COVID protocols. Arizona was led by big Cate Reese’s 17 points on 6-for-16 from the field and 3-for-6 from three and seven rebounds (three offensive) against two turnovers against four unintentional fouls in 25 minutes; point guard Shaina Pellington had 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting (0-1 3pt.), five rebounds, and five assists against two turnovers; combo guard Bendu Yeaney notched 10 points on 4-for-8 FG (2-3 3pt.), three rebounds, two steals, and two blocks; center Lauren Ware continued to come off the bench, this time for point guard Helena Pueyo’s first start since Jan. 9.

#3 N.C. State, RV* North Carolina: The Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels 66-58. North Carolina led by as much as 12 in the mid-second quarter, before N.C. State won the third 23-11. The Wolfpack out-shot the Heels by 11.8% from the field and 17.4% from three; N.C. State had only six free-throw attempts.

Wolfpack off-ball guard Kai Crutchfield led with a game-high 16 points on 6-for-11 from the field and 4-for-7 from three and two assists without a turnover; center Elissa Cunane notched a double-double with 11 points on 5-for-10 FG (1-1 3pt.) and 12 rebounds, plus two assists against three turnovers; wing Jakai Brown-Turner had 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting (1-3 3pt.), six rebounds, and two steals against two turnovers; point guard Raina Perez tallied 10 points on 4-for-7 from the field (2-3 3pt.), three assists, and five turnovers. North Carolina wing Kennedy Todd-Williams had a team-high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting (1-2 3pt.), seven rebounds, and two assists against two turnovers; combo guard Carlie Littlefield scored 12 points on 3-for-15 from the field and 1-for-6 from three but 5-for-6 from the line with three offensive rebounds, three assists, and three steals against two turnovers.

#5 Louisville, #21 Duke: The Cardinals beat the Blue Devils, 77-65. Louisville led by 16 at the half, but Duke cut within single-digits multiple times in the fourth quarter. The teams combined to shoot 48.1% from the field, but the Cardinals had 18 more attempts, almost all from three; the Blue Devils shot 53.3% from deep; Duke committed 20 turnovers; the teams combined for 39 fouls.

Louisville was led by combo guard Hailey Van Lith’s 17 points on 5-for-8 from three (1-4 from two), four rebounds (three offensive), and three assists; off-ball guard Peyton Verhulst scored a career-high 13 points in 20 bench minutes on 3-for-4 from three (1-1 from two) against her mom’s former team; wing Kianna Smith had 11 points on 4-for-13 from the field and 1-for-8 from three, five rebounds, and three assists against two turnovers; big wing Emily Engstler fouled out in 22 minutes, finishing with eight points on 4-for-10 FG (0-3 3pt.), five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Point guard Shayeann Day-Wilson led the Blue Devils with a game-high 25 points on 7-for-13 from the field (2-3 3pt.) and 9-for-10 from the line, three rebounds, and three assists against seven turnovers while fouling-out in 31 minutes; combo forward Lexi Gordon notched 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting (2-4 3pt.) and three rebounds.

#10 UConn: 69-61 win over Providence. Shot 54.3% from the field and held the Friars to 22.2% from three; notched 10 steals. Had a 16-0 run from the early second quarter through the beginning of the third. Combo guard Christyn Williams led with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting (2-3 3pt.), seven rebounds, and four assists against two turnovers without sitting; wing Evina Westbrook had 13 points on 4-for-7 from the field (2-5 3pt.), three steals, and two turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench; off-ball guard Caroline Ducharme notched 12 points on 5-for-13 FG (1-5 3pt.) and four rebounds against five turnovers; center Olivia Nelson-Ododa tallied 10 points on 3-for-3 from the field, six rebounds, and four assists against tow turnovers and four fouls in 25 minutes; big Dorka Juhász “needed to rest.”

#12 LSU: 78-69 win over Kentucky. The Tigers didn’t lead by more than six until the intentional-fouling period, with the Wildcats leading by five in the early fourth. Point guard Khayla Pointer led with 28 points on 9-for-19 from the field (3-4 3pt.) and 7-for-8 from the line, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals against two turnovers; combo guard Alexis Morris had 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting (2-4 3pt.) and four assists without sitting; center Faustine Aifuwa notched 14 points on 5-for-12 FG (4-6 FT), eight rebounds (four offensive), and two blocks. Kentucky was led by wing Rhyne Howard’s 23 points on 9-for-19 from the field, 1-for-7 from three, and 4-for-6 from the line and 12 rebounds for a double-double, plus three assists against three turnovers; point guard Jada Walker had 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting (4-5 3pt.), three assists, and two steals against six turnovers — career-highs in points, buckets, and threes.

#14 Georgia Tech: 69-62 win over Clemson. Shot 59.5% from the field and 47.1% from three; the teams combined for 41 fouls. Was a one-score game until an 11-0 run in the mid-second quarter. Off-ball guard Sarah Bates led with 16 points on 5-for-12 from three and three rebounds against two turnovers; big Lorela Cubaj notched a double-double with 12 points on 5-for-7 FG (0-1 3pt.) and 10 rebounds, plus six assists without a turnover; point guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen fouled-out in 35 minutes, finishing with 14 points on 4-for-7 from the field (2-3 3pt.) and six assists against five turnovers.

#15 Georgia, #24 Ole Miss: The Bulldogs beat Mississippi 62-52. Georgia won the first quarter 21-8. Georgia shot 16.8% better from the field and 23.3% better from three; Ole Miss notched 15 steals, part of 19 Bulldog turnovers. Center Jenna Staiti led with 22 points on 10-for-14 shooting (2-4 3pt.) and 11 rebounds for a double-double against two turnovers; wing Sarah Ashlee Barker had 12 points on 3-for-7 from the field (1-3 3pt.) and 5-for-6 from the line, seven rebounds, a career-high-tying five assists, and two steals against two turnovers and four fouls in 32 minutes; point guard Que Morrison notched 10 points on 5-for-13 FG (0-1 3pt.), six rebounds, and five assists against seven turnovers. Ole Miss was led by combo guard Angel Baker’s 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting (0-2 3pt.), four rebounds (three offensive), three assists, and two steals against two turnovers off the bench; center Shakira Austin struggled to nine points on 3-for-14 from the field and 3-for-8 from the line with 11 rebounds (four offensive) against three turnovers.

#17 Maryland: 82-71 win over Penn State, a team fresh off a 21-point loss to Michigan State. Make of that what you will. Were outshot by 12.5% from the field and 15.8% from three, but were a +9 in rebounding including 21 offensive boards; notched 16 steals, part of 24 forced turnovers.

Wing Diamond Miller led with a game-high-tying 19 points on 7-for-16 from the field, 1-for-6 from three, and 4-for-6 from the line, six rebounds (three offensive), four assists, and three steals against four turnovers; combo forward Chloe Bibby notched a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double on 7-for-15 shooting (2-3 3pt.) with six offensive boards and two steals against two turnovers; big Angel Reese had 16 points on 7-for-12 FG, four rebounds (three offensive), and two assists; backup big Mimi Collins tallied 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting and four offensive rebounds; combo guard Shyanne Sellers had six points on 3-for-8 from the field (0-3 3pt.), three rebounds, a career-high tying nine assists, and a career-high five steals without a turnover in 29 minutes off the bench.

#19 Oregon: 80-48 win over USC. Shot 50.0% from the field and 40.0% from three while allowing just 26.3% overall and 23.5% from deep; notched 11 steals, part of 17 forced turnovers; committed 19 fouls. Nyara Sabally led with 23 points on 9-for-12 FG (0-1 3pt., 5-7), seven rebounds, and three steals against two turnovers; point guard Endyia Rogers had 17 points on 7-for-12 from the field (3-5 3pt.), seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals against three turnovers; wing Sydney Parrish committed four fouls in 25 minutes, finishing with three points on 1-for-4 from three (0-2 from two) and three rebounds; backup center Sedona Prince had four fouls in 16 minutes, with two points on 1-for-5 FG, five rebounds, and two assists.

#20 Notre Dame: 74-61 win over Boston College. Shot just 5-for-24 from three; held the Eagles to 32.9% from the field and 18.2% from deep; forced 19 turnovers. Point guard Olivia Miles led with a career-high 30 points on 12-for-19 from the field and 4-for-8 from three, four rebounds, and six assists against six turnovers; wing Sonia Citron made her second-straight start with off-ball guard Anaya Peoples sliding to the bench, and finished with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting (1-1 3pt.) and four rebounds and two turnovers; combo guard Dara Mabrey had her first career double-double with 12 points on 6-for-12 FG — just her third career game without a three attempt — and 10 rebounds (four offensive), plus two steals and a career-high six blocks against two turnovers.

RV DePaul: 85-65 win over Seton Hall. Shot 43.2% from the field and 40.9% from three; had 20 offensive rebounds; notched 10 steals, part of 19 forced turnovers; had 10 of its shots blocked. The Pirates drew with six in the late third quarter, before the Blue Demons ended the game on a 25-11 run. Off-ball guard Sonya Morris led with 26 points on 11-for-18 from the field (4-5 3pt.), six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks against four turnovers; big Aneesah Morrow notched her 15th-straight double-double with 22 points on 9-for-21 FG (0-1 3pt.) and 27 rebounds (13 offensive) against four turnovers; off-ball guard Deja Church had 20 points on 9-for-17 shooting (2-5 3pt.), five rebounds, and three assists against two turnovers. Seton Hall center Sidney Cooks scored a career-high 32 points on 15-for-22 FG (1-2 3pt.) with 10 rebounds (four offensive) for a double-double, plus seven blocks against two turnovers.

RV UCLA: 72-58 loss to Oregon State. After being shorthanded all season due to non-COVID injuries to top players, missed combo guard Charisma Osborne again; played with eight healthy, after forfeiting the Friday game against Oregon. Head coach Cori Close in Sunday’s postgame:

I think this week was especially hard. Really proud of our team’s response. I think our team’s response was a whole lot better than the Pac-12 office’s response, quite frankly. Our team was like, ‘how can I sacrifice for someone else?’ What do we need to do?’

Really disappointed that — we say ‘health and safety protocols,’ that ‘the health and safety of the student-athletes is the top priority.’ I don’t think that was lived out from the top. And that disappoints me… This is my 29th season — I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s really been hard… But we are going to choose integrity, and we are going to choose the health and wellness of our student-athletes first, and that will never waver from us.

Duquesne: 67-48 win over La Salle. Combo guard Libby Bazelak recorded her first career triple-double with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting (2-5 3pt.), 11 rebounds (five offensive), and 10 assists, plus two steals against two turnovers — Duquesne’s fourth trip-dub in school history.

Drexel: 75-67 win over William & Mary. Combo guard Keishana Washington led all scorers Sunday with a career-high 40 points in 48 minutes on 14-for-26 from the field, 5-for-8 from three, and 7-for-9 from the line, plus six rebounds (three offensive) and two assists against six turnovers.


  • Northwestern vs. Illinois
  • Cal v. Arizona State
  • Rhode Island v. VCU
*Receiving Votes

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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