The women's NCAA tournament may have reached a familiar endgame in
New Orleans on Tuesday with Connecticut meeting Tennessee in the
final, for the fourth time. (The game was played after SI went to
press.) But along the way it provided a national stage for two
budding stars from Sunday's losing semifinalists: Seimone
Augustus of LSU (beaten by the Lady Vols 52-50) and Janel
McCarville of Minnesota (eliminated by the Huskies 67-58).
Although Augustus struggled against Tennessee, scoring 16 points
on 7-for-21 shooting, LSU's 6'1" sophomore guard was arguably the
best player in the first two weekends of the tournament,
averaging 26.3 points on 66% shooting, including 29 in each of
two wins over West Regional top-seed Texas and No. 3-seed
Georgia. The rare female player who can elevate, penetrate, post
up, pirouette, get off a shot at will--and make a
football-obsessed school mad for women's hoops--Augustus is
living up to the hype that attended her signing with her hometown
Lady Tigers two years ago.
McCarville, a 6'2" junior post player whom Connecticut coach Geno
Auriemma called "one of the toughest kids in America,"
demonstrated the soft hands, deft passing skill and dominating
presence that make her the closest thing to a Shaquille O'Neal
that the women's game has produced. Averaging 19.4 points and 15
rebounds in the tournament, McCarville was the perfect complement
to teammate and fellow Kodak All-America, guard Lindsay Whalen,
whose breathtaking passes and contortionist penetration, alas,
reached a national audience only at the end of a brilliant
Weep not for UConn and Tennessee. The Huskies will lose star
Diana Taurasi, but three other starters return, and two 2004
McDonald's All-Americans, including heralded 6'2" forward Charde
Houston from San Diego, plan to matriculate at Storrs. Lady Vols
coach Pat Summitt, meanwhile, amassed one of her best recruiting
classes, snagging five McDonald's All-Americans, including 6'3"
forward Candace Parker, the national high school player of the
year, from Naperville, Ill. But the performances of Augustus and
McCarville put UConn and Tennessee on notice that another
appearance in the championship game is far from a lock. --Kelli
April 11, 2004
For Kelli Anderson's account of the championship game, go to
si.com/basketball/ncaa. A postgame report also will appear in
next week's issue of SI.