UConn women's hoops players say they're good for the game
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Latest on preparations for the women's Final Four in Indianapolis, where two NCAA Tournament semifinals are set for Sunday (all times local):
It was an emotional awards ceremony for Geno Auriemma as he was honored as The Associated Press Coach of the Year for an eighth time.
The Hall of Famer got choked up and fought back tears a few times on stage.
''I can't describe it. I don't know why, it happened,'' Auriemma said of being overcome by emotion. ''It's been really different from the time the NCAA Tournament started. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.''
Auriemma's Huskies are two victories away from an unprecedented fourth straight national championship and AP Player of the Year Breanna Stewart is a big reason why.
UConn's Breanna Stewart is The Associated Press Player of the Year for a record third time and her coach is the Associated Press Coach of the year for an eighth time.
UConn has won 73 straight games and coach Geno Auriemma stands two victories from winning a record 11th national championship which would move him past vaunted UCLA men's coach John Wooden for the most all-time in college basketball history.
Stewart was a unanimous choice - the first time that's happened since the award was first given in 1995 - from the 32-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25 poll. Ralph Sampson of Virginia was the only men's basketball player to win the award three times.
Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament.
UConn's Breanna Stewart has won her second consecutive Wade Trophy as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association player of the year.
''A lot of great players have won it and to be able to have won it multiple times, it's putting myself in a class with only a few,'' she said.
Stewart also is a leading candidate to take home her third straight Associated Press player of the year award on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4 senior averaged 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds this season while collecting 65 steals, dishing out 139 assists and blocking 123 shots.
UConn freshman Katie Lou Samuelson didn't practice on Saturday. Team officials say she wasn't feeling well.
The 6-foot-3 Samuelson averages 11 points for the Huskies, but has increased that to 14.4 points during the postseason. She led the team during two of the first three rounds of the tournament, scoring 22 points in a 101-49 win over Robert Morris, then scoring another 22 and grabbing 14 rebounds in UConn's 98-38 regional semifinal rout of Mississippi State.
A team spokesman says it's likely she'll play in Sunday's semifinal against Oregon State.
UConn stars Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck say the Huskies are good for women's basketball.
The pair was asked Saturday at the Final Four to weigh in on criticism that their 73-game winning streak, their record-breaking 22-game NCAA Tournament winning streak and 40-plus point margins of victory have turned off casual fans.
Stewart says the Huskies get higher TV ratings than other women's teams and play the game the way it should be played.
''We're growing the game, but people need to continue growing it with us,'' she said.
Tuck says she believes the criticism stems from the sexism of those who want to demean women's basketball.
''If it were men's basketball or football, or baseball, they wouldn't say it,'' she said. ''I would never think that being great is a bad thing.''