Women's hoops: Double dribbles

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 19, 2008

Conference play has started across the country, but the elite programs still sneak one more A-list nonleague game on their schedules. The biggest of those is Monday's ESPN2 showdown between No. 1 Connecticut and No. 3 North Carolina, the highest-scoring teams in college basketball.

The undefeated Huskies are newly vulnerable after losing senior guard Mel Thomas for the season after her knee injury in Tuesday's win against Syracuse, this after losing starting forward Kalana Greene for the season in December. One name to watch Monday: Huskies freshman guard Lorin Dixon, just 5 feet 4 but super-quick and a high school teammate of UConn star Tina Charles.

Want more nonconference clashes before the postseason? Don't forget No. 2 Tennessee at No. 10 Duke on Jan. 28, or No. 5 Rutgers at the Vols on Feb. 11. Any of those could be previews of what we'll see in April in Tampa.

Power play

How often do you get a game in which the "minutes" on the box score shows a statistical advantage for one team?

We'll be hard-pressed to find a stranger finish than last week's Arizona-Oregon State game, which ended in double overtime with the Wildcats fielding only two players on the court after four fouled out. The Beavers finished with 251 minutes played; the Wildcats 235.

Arizona made it through the entire first overtime with only four players (after starting with just six, due to injuries and other assorted absences) but fell in the second extra session after being reduced to playing 2-on-5 in the final minute.

Lesson: If you're going to go with only two players, it helps to have one of them be 6-7, as in center Beatrice Bofia, who had 10 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in 45 minutes. Hard to play a triangle-and-two when you can't make a triangle, but here's to the old 1-1 zone.

9-for-12 isn't bad

ESPN.com's Charlie Creme is projecting the NCAA field with his regularly updated "Bracketology" feature, and his current 64 is heavy on major-conference teams. Creme projects nine teams from the Big East and Big 12 - the latter is even more ridiculous when you see that two of his "first four out" to barely miss the cut are Kansas State and Texas Tech. The only league team out of contention? Missouri, which is 8-8.

Of those nine NCAA hopefuls, only two - Baylor and Oklahoma - might be top-four seeds expected to make the Sweet 16, and those two meet Sunday in the first of at least two showdowns. The Big 12 and Big East are easily the deepest leagues, but which conference will have the most alive after the NCAA Tournament's first weekend?

She said it

"Our seniors have waited four years for this. Some of you have been waiting 10, so we thank you."

Maryland coach Brenda Frese, to a crowd of 15,531 that saw the Terrapins beat Duke at home Monday for the first time since 1998

By the numbers

3.7 Blocks per game for University of Tampa center Sheena Walton (Largo), ranking second nationally in Division II basketball

30.2 Average margin of victory for UNC, second nationally

41.1 Average margin of victory for Connecticut, best in NCAA

43.4 Points allowed by Connecticut, also best in college basketball

90.6 Points per game for Connecticut, leading all of college basketball


Women's Final Four

When: April 6 and 8

Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa

Tickets: Sold out

On the Web: For continuing coverage leading to the Women's Final Four, check sports.tampabay.com and click on our special index page.