First, celebrate the DII and DIII champeens:
Ryan McCarthy was persuaded.
As much as the Alaska Anchorage coach wanted his team to win the NCAA Division II championship, he saw after Lubbock Christian University’s 78-73 victory Monday how the Lady Chaparrals went undefeated.
“That’s as good a team as we’ve seen,” McCarthy said.
From the AP:
Lubbock Christian’s Nicole Hampton and Kelsey Hoppel spent last season on the bench, hoping to play for a national championship this year.
The plan worked — to perfection.
Hoppel scored 27 points, Hampton nearly had a quadruple-double and the Lady Chaps beat Alaska Anchorage 78-73 on Monday for their first Division II women’s basketball title.
The seniors combined for 28 of Lubbock Christian’s 38 second-half points after they redshirted last year so they would be eligible for the Lady Chaps’ first year of postseason NCAA eligibility.
The Saints held off the Jumbos, to claim back-to-back DIII titles.
Tufts wasn’t going to let Thomas More superstar Sydney Moss beat them alone, so everybody else had to step up for the top-ranked Saints.
And they did. They won their second straight national championship and they proved they weren’t just the Sydney Moss Show.
“We are going to take everybody’s best shots, we know that,” said coach Jeff Hans. “Our players and our guys rose to the challenge every time.”
From the AP:
“It was an easy decision,” Hillsman said. “Right away it made us play faster. It made us get down the floor. It made us get into our offense faster. And it made us more efficient.”
They poke. They prod. They pry. More irritating than buzzing gnats, more infuriating than barking dogs, they live with the singular sneakered purpose to aggravate for 40 minutes across 94 feet.
There is no seven-step program in the matter of the Syracuse women’s basketball team and its approach to defense. There is just the one: Annoy.
This notion that the Connecticut women’s basketball team is riding a perfect season is one of the great myths of the sport.
The reality is that the Huskies dine on defeat almost every day.
It might take an opposing team that fields eight male players at the same time to get the job done, but true champions find a way to figure out an answer.
Syracuse would make history simply by stopping UConn. An Orange victory would qualify as the biggest upset in women’s NCAA title-game history.
For the fourth straight year since conference realignment changed the basketball landscape, the NCAA championship will be decided by two teams from what most refer to as the “old” Big East.
The host city of the Final Four was buffeted in recent days by winds that blew with the strength and stamina more familiar to West Texas than central Indiana. Trees toppled, power lines fell and trucks were swept off the highway.
Walking into the strongest swirling gusts, just staying upright at times proved a challenge.
It was, in other words, a decent approximation of how it feels to be caught in a UConn run. It offered some sense of what awaits Syracuse in Tuesday night’s national championship game as it tries to pull off the biggest upset in tournament history.
Brittney Sykes didn’t pick up the phone for a while after she tore her ACL for the second time in 10 months.
It was too hard to talk to people. They wanted to say the right thing, something encouraging. Sometimes they offered prayers. Sometimes they didn’t know what to say. Sykes worried she wouldn’t know what to say back. She didn’t want to answer a lot of questions, and she’d just end up in tears. Best just to let the phone ring.
But when Breanna Stewart’s name popped up on her screen, Sykes answered.
Few players on the Syracuse women’s basketball team have as long a history with the program as Breanna Stewart does.
Although she plays for the Connecticut Huskies, Stewart has a collection of Orange apparel. From her home in North Syracuse, the Syracuse campus is a five-minute drive south on Interstate 81, a trip she regularly made to watch women’s basketball games with her father, Brian, when she was a high school student. When Stewart is on break from Connecticut, she sometimes travels that route to visit Brittney Sykes, a Syracuse guard, whom she has known since ninth grade.
With her relationship to the university in mind, Stewart said it was fitting that she would end her college career against Syracuse on Tuesday night in the national championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
One of Breanna Stewart’s favorite memories growing up is going to Syracuse women’s basketball games, sitting next to her dad in the Carrier Dome and eating nachos.
They’d go all the time when she was in high school at Cicero North in North Syracuse, N.Y. Her house is five minutes from campus.
John Altavilla: UConn Women Just One Win Away From Record 11th Championship
There was a time when the idea was purely conceptual, a passing thought, a dream really, in the mind of the impetuous high school graduate, Breanna Stewart.
Shortly before she began her UConn career in 2012, Stewart, the national high school player of the year, said she had a goal.
“I want to win four national championships,” Stewart said.
Before his current team left for Indianapolis intent to do just that, coach Geno Auriemma was asked what he thought about all that. He smiled.
UConn is vying for a fourth NCAA title in a row Tuesday, something that hasn’t been done before in Division I women’s basketball. Athletes winning four consecutive national championships — maxing out on titles, as it were — hasn’t happened much in any sport. If the Huskies beat Syracuse on Tuesday, it would put them in some exclusive company, and Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck would become the first NCAA basketball players, men or women, to win four titles in a row.
Sanderson won four individual titles with a flawless 159-0 record while wrestling for Iowa State from 1998-2002. Lipsitz was a key player on Penn State’s four consecutive NCAA volleyball championship teams from 2007-10. Both are now college coaches, and they praised what UConn is trying to do.
“It’s not easy, and once you have that target on your back, it’s gets even harder,” said Lipsitz, head coach for Buffalo volleyball. “Everybody wants to play their best against you.”
New Haven Register: UConn seniors Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck look to win fourth national title
“For our senior class we have been here for what seems like forever,’ Jefferson said. “We have gone through every single challenge that Coach has thrown our way, so if you get through that, things like this seem easier because I don’t know if everybody understands how difficult that is to have them (UConn coaches) breathing down your neck every single day.”
In other news:
Great to have the 1976 US Olympic team honored, including: Former Southern Connecticut stars O’Connor, Rojcewicz honored with 1976 Olympic team