UConn's unstoppable; more lessons from conference tournaments
UConn's trouncing of Louisville in the Big East final said everything
Maryland, looking like the '06 squad, deserves a No. 1 seed
Courtney Paris's promise was fun, but she better start saving up
The first wave of conference tournaments is behind us. Here's what we know so far:
1. U-Can't Stop UConn. Ok. So we already knew Connecticut was scary good. The Huskies simply reminded us of that with their run to the Big East tournament title. Everyone expected them to win it, but not necessarily the completely dominating way they did. UConn held Louisville to 36 points -- half of the Cardinals' season average in their 75-36 win Tuesday night in Hartford. Maya Moore probably would have outscored the Cardinals had she played the full 40 minutes, but she settled for 28 points in 32 minutes. Of course, there is more to UConn than Moore: the Huskies controlled everything over the past few days (as well as this season), especially inside. Half their points came in the paint where Tina Charles, as usual, came up big.
2. Maryland deserves a No. 1 seed. The Terps have come a long way since that season-opening loss to TCU to take the ACC regular season and tournament titles. Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman still anchor the offense, but Maryland is showing the kind of balance it had during the 2006 national championship run. Toliver and Coleman are among four players averaging at least 10 points a game. The Terps got an additional boost from redshirt freshman Kim Rodgers, who doubled her season scoring average with 10 points a game during the tournament. Rodgers, who missed last season with a knee injury, was clutch at the line, hitting a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the championship game that helped seal the overtime win for the Terps.
3. Louisville is not a No. 1 seed. It's not just the fact that they couldn't compete at all with Connecticut. It's that the Cardinals just weren't convincing enough during the tournament. Yes, they reached the title game, but not before allowing an unranked Rutgers team to push them to double overtime. The Cardinals also showed how much they need Angel McCoughtry, who accounted for 39 percent of their offense, to stay on the floor and involved in the game.
4. We still don't know what to expect from Tennessee. The Lady Vols are facing the probability of their worst seed ever. What's more disconcerting is the lack of consistency. Their 78-58 loss to Auburn in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament was a fitting example of the Lady Vols' whole season. The Lady Vols looked postseason ready with a tremendous first-half effort that led them to a five-point halftime lead, but then Tennessee's defense gave up twice as many points in the second half as it did the first. "I think we're at a crossroads," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said after the game. "We've got to decide who we are. Are we going to be a 40 minute team? Are we going to commit to our defense for 40 minutes?"
5. The Big 12 Tournament has yet to get underway, but we already know that Courtney Paris better start saving her pennies. You can't help but root for Paris to win a championship. She's done just about everything else at Oklahoma. One of the most likeable players around, Paris has smashed school, conference and NCAA records. Offering to refund on her scholarship should Oklahoma not win the title, wasn't her best move, though. There's no question the Sooners are better than they were in November when they lost to UConn by 28. Unfortunately for Paris's bank account, so are the Huskies.
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