Women's College Basketball: Highlights and lowlights
December 16, 2009
Guard: Diana Taurasi, UConn. She won the 2002 NCAA title surrounded by great talent, the 2003 title accompanied by a team of role players and the 2004 title because, as Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma put it, "We have Diana and you don't." She is our women's college basketball Player of the Decade.
Guard: Sue Bird, UConn. Her unique package of playmaking skills, vision, instinct and clutch shooting helped Connecticut win two NCAA titles, in 2000 and 2002. Bird's 45.9 percent career three-point shooting is still the best in UConn history.
Forward: Candace Parker, Tennessee. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward/center could play every position, fill out every statistical box -- and dunk. She led the Lady Vols to back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008, the latter while suffering a dislocated left shoulder.
Forward: Seimone Augustus, LSU. The player LSU athletic director Skip Bertman called "the most important recruit in the history of LSU," never led the Lady Tigers to a national title, but her trademark feathery jumper (and 19.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a game) guided LSU to three straight Final Fours and established the program as a perennial title contender.
Center: Courtney Paris, Oklahoma. While dominating the post for the Sooners from 2005-2009, the four-time Kodak/State Farm All-American set a number of records, including the NCAA mark for consecutive double-doubles, with 112.
Coach: Geno Auriemma. Five NCAA title in 10 years -- two of them, 2002 and 2009, capping undefeated seasons -- is downright Wooden-esque.
BEST GAME: Maryland vs. Duke, 2006 NCAA championship gameThe Terrapins, who were 5-0 in overtime going into the final, liked to say "Overtime is our time", and they made good on their motto by overcoming a 13-point deficit to beat ACC rival Duke 78-75 in OT. Maryland freshman Kristi Toliver made the shot of the decade by hitting a well-covered three at the buzzer to force overtime.BEST PROGRAM:UConnThe Huskies won five titles, four Naismith Player of the Year awards (Taurasi twice, Bird and Maya Moore), three WBCA Coach of the Year awards, and two undefeated seasons. End of argument.
BEST SINGLE-SEASON TEAM:2001-02 UConnIts most telling stat aside (it beat all 39 teams it faced by a record 35.4 points a game), this team had it all: talent, experience, chemistry, a killer instinct and a starting five that included four seniors -- Bird, SwinCash,Tamika Williams and Asjha Jones -- who would all go in the top six of the WNBA draft and a sophomore (Taurasi) who was the best player of her generation.
BIGGEST UPSET: No. 12-seeded Ball State over Tennessee 71-55 in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA tournamentSure, this was a flawed Tennessee team, but flaws had never prevented the Lady Vols from reaching the second round -- or the Sweet 16 -- in any of the previous 27 NCAAs. Adding sting to the historic defeat, the Orange goliath was slayed by a mid-major program that was playing in its first NCAAs under a first-year coach.
BIGGEST NEAR-MISS:Duke in the 2006 national championship gameWhat if Duke's Alison Bales had blocked the buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing three-point shot of Tolliver, which she was within a fingernail of doing, in the 2006 title game? Duke would have finally won the title that had long eluded it, and coach Gail Goestenkors might have stayed at Duke and built a dynasty in Durham rather than leaving for Texas in 2007.
• UConn wins third consecutive NCAA title; April 6, 2004In beating rival Tennessee 70-61 for their third straight title, the Huskies made Connecticut the first school in history to have both men's and women's team win the title in the same year.
•LSU coach Pokey Chatman abruptly resigns as NCAAs loom; March 7, 2007After taking over for ailing coach Sue Gunter and leading the Lady Tigers to three straight Final Fours, the rising star was suddenly gone, leaving in her wake allegations that she had inappropriate relations with a former player. Chatman eventually sued the school for wrongful termination and received a $160,000 settlement.
• Don Imus disparages Rutgers team; April 4, 2007The morning after Rutgers lost to Tennessee in the NCAA title game, radio shock jock Imus called the Scarlet Knights "rough girls" and "nappy-headed hos," on air, sparking a nationwide controversy about free-speech. CBS cancelled his show on April 12, but seven months later, he was back on the air on ABC.
• Tennessee-Connecticut series ends; June 2007With no explanation, Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt declined to renew the regular-season series between the two powerhouses that had captivated TV audiences for 13 years. Auriemma's guess at her reasoning: "She hates my guts."
• Breast cancer claims life of coaching legend Kay Yow; Jan. 24, 2009The Hall of Famer won more than 700 games in 38 years of coaching, the last 34 of them at North Carolina State, but her greatest legacy may be her courageous fight against cancer that included the launch of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, which has raised $1.7 million to date for research.
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