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Courting the ladies

A quick look at the women's NCAA tournament

Posted: Wednesday March 23, 2005 2:56PM; Updated: Wednesday March 23, 2005 2:56PM
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Candice Wiggins
Stanford freshman Candice Wiggins scored 29 points in her NCAA tournament debut -- a 94-57 win over Santa Clara.

To quote Martina McBride, "This one's for the girls." That's right, a quick blog about the women's NCAA hoops tourney. Ruminations, recommendations and remonstrations, all for your benefit:

1. Janel McCarville's pick on Virginia's LaTonya Blue during the Golden Gophers' second-round win Monday night was legal, yet ruthless. I haven't seen a woman fall that hard since the climactic scene of Million Dollar Baby.

2. No sport has nicer national beat writers than women's college hoops. Jere Longman (New York Times), Dick Patrick (USA Today) and Kelli Anderson (Sports Illustrated), to name a few, are some of the least-jaded scribes you'll ever meet.

The media room at a Women's Final Four resembles a teachers' lounge at an underfunded, yet over-achieving, charter school.

3. The Washington Mystics did ESPN no favors Monday. In the morning SportsCenter, the network ran a piece on how Mystic forward Chamique Holdsclaw, who's been battling depression and playing professionally in Valencia, Spain, is getting her life back together. Then the Mystics traded Holdsclaw to the Los Angeles Sparks, leaving her now-former teammate (Stacey Dales-Schuman, Mystics) and new teammate (Lisa Leslie, Sparks), both ESPN studio analysts, no choice but to discuss the situation. Dales-Schuman and Leslie said all the right things; I guarantee you whatever they said off-air about Holdsclaw was 10 times more intriguing.

4. Had a chance to see 6-foot-5 Louisiana State freshman Sylvia Fowles (she's the one holding a basketball in each hand, arms outstretched, in ESPN's promo for the tourney) in person Sunday. She is chiseled (or, in Doggspeak, chizzizzled). Fowles easily has the most impressive hoops physique to grace Baton Rouge since Shaq.

5. Did you know that there's a Women's NIT? No, really. It's the tournament that answers the question: Just how small can agate type be?

6. Stanford freshman Candice Wiggins is the most fun player to watch in this year's tourney. The Cardinal have won 22-consecutive games and are headed toward a Sweet 16 showdown against three-time defending national champion UConn in the Kansas City Regional this weekend. The two schools have not played one another this decade. Coaches Tara VanDerveer (Stanford) and Geno Auriemma (UConn) could not be more polar opposites, personality-wise. This one will be fun to watch.

7. I love women's college basketball as much as any male at SI (although my friend who married a women's college-basketball icon might argue that), but comparing Pat Summitt's 880 career wins to Dean Smith's 879 is ludicrous. If Smith had won his 879 games in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, when men's college hoops was in its nascent stages, then the records might be comparable. That said, there's no way to overstate how important Summitt has been to the women's game. She's won a national title in three different decades, won an Olympic gold medal as a player and as a coach, and is in the thick of the national title hunt every year.

8. Women don't play in skirts anymore. Perhaps it's time the cognoscenti of women's hoops also adopt the 10-second rule for having the ball pass midcourt.