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College basketball

Women: Fans treat Vols like winners

By Wire services
Published April 8, 2004

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Coach Pat Summitt and the Vols women's team were welcomed home Wednesday by about 300 fans who gathered for a celebration complete with indoor fireworks, streamers and proclamations from the mayor and governor.

Similar rallies have been held after winning a national championship - not coming in second. But the university felt this team (31-4) deserved it.

This season's players were considered less talented than previous editions, but they made it to the NCAA final after a run of heart-pounding wins.

"You have been an inspiration to us," Summitt said in addressing the fans. "At times, you know we needed inspiration."

"Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the heart attacks!" said women's athletic director Joan Cronan, who presented Summitt with a basketball signed by legendary UCLA coach John Wooden.

Some consider this season Summitt's best coaching job. She was named the Naismith and SEC coach of the year.

And she has helped ensure the Vols make another run next season with a top recruiting class.

MORE MISDEEDS IN STORRS: A second national title brought a second night of overblown celebration at the University of Connecticut.

Two hours after the women's victory, fans overturned two cars and set one of them on fire at the Celeron Square apartment complex about a mile north of campus. There were no reports of injuries.

It was at the same complex Monday night, after the men's team won its second national title, where revelers overturned two cars and set several bonfires. Police arrested 35 people on and off campus after that game.

UConn police Wednesday reported six arrests for charges ranging from breach of peace to criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. State police made three additional arrests.

RATINGS RECORD: The women's championship game drew the highest rating since ESPN began broadcasting the event in 1996. The 4.3 overnight rating was up 23 percent from last year's 3.5.

In addition, UConn's win over Tennessee was the most-watched basketball game, collegiate or pro, in the network's 25-year history. Nearly 4-million households tuned in. The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use.

COACHES HIRED: Alabama-Birmingham hired Audra Smith as its women's coach. The former player and assistant coach at Virginia replaces Jeannie Milling, who was fired after 17 seasons. ... New Orleans hired UAB assistant Amy Champion as coach. She played on Division II championship teams for Delta State in 1989 and 1990.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels rescinded a scholarship offer to JamesOn Curry just days after the leading scorer in state high school basketball history pleaded guilty to six felony drug charges. Curry was kicked off his Eastern Alamance High School team shortly after his arrest in February. He was sentenced to 36 months of probation, various fines, $200 in court costs and 200 hours of community service.

AUBURN SEARCH: UAB men's coach Mike Anderson withdrew from consideration for the job, ending a weeklong flirtation. Meantime, Tennessee-Chattanooga coach Jeff Lebo interviewed.

[Last modified April 8, 2004, 01:35:43]


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