Women's hoops: Double dribbles

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 26, 2008

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw believes she might be the only coach in the country who will finish the season having played all four Final Four teams. Her Fighting Irish, 15-4 and ranked 16th, have losses to Maryland and Tennessee and still have Big East powers Connecticut and Rutgers on their schedule.

Could Notre Dame hand the top-ranked Huskies their first loss? The Irish beat UConn in Storrs in 2005 and at Notre Dame in 2004. This year's team, led by guards Charel Allen and Ashley Barlow, already has five wins against RPI top 50 teams, but their last four meetings with UConn have been double-digit losses.

Notre Dame is within 500 tickets of selling out the Joyce Center and will have its third crowd this season of more than 10,000 fans.

Cowboy up

Is Wyoming to women's basketball what Hawaii was during football season? The Cowboys are 17-1 and ranked 18th, but they have only two wins against RPI top 50 opponents, beating Kansas State and Iowa. Wyoming's only remaining top 50 dates are two games against Utah, which won't exactly answer the mid-major doubters.

How do you recruit kids to Wyoming? Look outside the United States - seven players are from other countries. Top scorer Hanna Zavecz is one of four from Australia, No. 2 scorer Justyna Podziemska is from Poland, and the roster also boasts players from the Czech Republic and Spain.

What kind of respect can Wyoming get from the NCAA selection committee? ESPN.com projects the Cowboys as a No. 4 seed, while CollegeRPI.com has them as a No. 5.

Free fallin'

Looking for a midseason collapse, coinciding with the start of super tough conference play? The SEC is a good place to start. Arkansas is 1-4 since a 15-0 start, but that might be trumped by Auburn, which was No. 15 at Christmas and after a 12-1 start has dropped five of its last six.

The opposite? Right now, it looks like Kentucky, which is 10-9 overall but 4-1 in the SEC. All nine of the Wildcats' losses are to RPI top 50 teams, but their only top 50 win came against Florida. Check out their upcoming week: Sunday at home against LSU, then games at Georgia and at Tennessee, as rough a nine-day stretch as you'll see.

State on the bubble

Could the state of Florida host the women's Final Four and not have a single team make the NCAA Tournament? It's definitely possible. The latest mock 64 at CollegeRPI.com have Florida and Florida State as the first two teams to miss the NCAA cut, which would put our state's hopes on Jacksonville, which is 15-3 and would need to win the Atlantic Sun Tournament to make the field.


By the numbers

.698 NCAA-best shooting percentage for Liz Sherwood, a 6-4 center at Vanderbilt
.664 Career shooting percentage for Sherwood, who transferred from UConn in '05
.638 Shooting percentage of next-best player in NCAA, Boston College's Carolyn Swords
.429 Sherwood's shooting percentage in Vandy's loss to Tennessee on Sunday

Women's Final Four

When: April 6 and 8

Where: St. Pete Times Forum

Tickets: Sold out