tampabay.com

ESPN to reveal brackets a day after men's

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published April 5, 2005


INDIANAPOLIS - Forget Selection Sunday.

If you're a women's basketball fan, your focus will be on Selection Monday from now on. The women are getting a day to themselves.

The NCAA women's basketball committee and ESPN have agreed to hold the selection show Monday, the day after the men, and tournament organizers said it's part of a continuing effort to raise the interest level and profile of the game.

"ESPN came to us, they feel, and we agree, that we have come to the point where we're creating a situation where we will own the night," Lynn Parkes , chair of the NCAA women's basketball committee, said Monday. "It will be our show.

"We have a guaranteed one-hour window. We feel like the whole package will be a really great asset to women's basketball."

SAY IT TOGETHER - PARITY: With powerhouse programs Tennessee and Connecticut, the three-time defending champion, out of tonight's final, the buzz is that parity has come to the women's game.

Michigan State and Baylor are playing for the first time, and coaches, players and organizers insist it's good for the game.

Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie had some advice for the fans who thought they would be watching No.1 overall seed LSU vs. six-time champion Tennessee.

"I would tell them to find the greenest T-shirt they can wear and come on back," she said of both teams' primary color. "Nobody wants to be out of the tournament, but you might as well make good on your tickets. My husband is from Chattanooga, Tenn., if that helps. But I think this shows the game's growing, and it's exciting for many more people.

"And talk about great games for women's basketball on national TV. There's something to be said for that."

One of the biggest questions is if the casual fan will tune in.

"Tennessee and UConn are the names that folks recognize, and certainly they have carried the torch and the tradition for a long time," said Sue Donohoe , a member of the women's basketball committee. "But I think that there will be a crowd tuning in to see the new kids on the block."

ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL: The Michigan State women were disappointed the Spartan men lost to North Carolina in the semifinals Saturday night, but the men are now fully focused on the women.

" "Kelvin Torbert sent me a text message, and he left a voice mail," guard Kristin Haynie said. "He was just really happy for us, and he said, "Bring home the championship for us.' ... They're cheering us 100 percent."

Michigan State hopes the Hoosier state is as kind to it as it was to the men, who won the 2000 national title in Indianapolis.

STUNNED AND THANKFUL: Even though it's something she has dreamed about since last summer's workouts, senior guard Chelsea Whitaker still can't believe the Bears are playing for a national title. And she's probably more appreciative of the opportunity than many players.

The Dallas native has had five surgeries during her career, three on her knees for torn ACLs and two on her lower legs.

"I'm pretty mentally tough because I've been through so much," Whitaker said. "With all the injuries, it's just been a rough road. But I always tell people I just get in my H2 (hummer) and drive right through it."