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Safe at home

Home court advantage playing a big part in tournament

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Posted: Tuesday March 16, 1999 10:03 PM

  LSU was seeded high enough to host their first two games at home but coach Sue Gunter said she knows it's an advantage and in the future, neutral locations should be used for all tournament games. AP

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- It wasn't LSU's speed, defense or perimeter shooting that sent Notre Dame packing in the NCAA tournament. It was simply a case of too much home court advantage, the coach of the Fighting Irish maintains.

"If we're playing at home, we're moving on," Muffit McGraw said after Notre Dame lost 74-64 to the Tigers.

McGraw isn't the only coach that believes it's time for the women's tournament to move to neutral sites. LSU coach Sue Gunter acknowledged that playing at home is too much of an advantage.

"It's past time to play these games on a neutral site," Gunter said. "I'm not sure we would have won this if it had been played at Notre Dame. Being on you're own court is absolutely an advantage. We've just got to suck it up and do the right thing."

Lending credence to the belief, the top four seeds in each of the four brackets all made it to the regional semifinals that will be played at four sites next Saturday. All 16 played their first- and second-round games at home.

Three-time defending national champion Tennessee and No. 1-ranked Purdue were among the eight teams that advanced as the second round concluded Monday night. Duke, LSU, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech and UCLA were the others.

Louisiana Tech, playing on its home court, advanced on Sunday night and will play LSU in the round of 16.

LSU (22-7) has now won 35 consecutive home court games against non-conference opponents, including an 8-0 mark this year.

Although Notre Dame was ranked eighth nationally going into the game, and LSU was No. 21, the Tigers were seeded No. 4 in the regional, the Irish were No. 5.

Notre Dame lost 74-64 to LSU in the second round of the NCAA West Regional on Monday night. LSU rallied behind 24 points from Latasha Dorsey.

"I don't think there's any question the selection committee shows favoritism, and we need to stop that," McGraw said.

LSU assistant athletic director Debbie Corum is a member of the NCAA Women's Basketball Committee.

"If someone accuses us of favoritism, they obviously don't understand how the process works," Corum said Tuesday. "I'm not allowed to participate in any conversations with committee members about my team or be in the room when they're discussed.

"I know people think we're sitting there lobbying for our team, but that's not the case."

The women's tournament originally went to the homecourt format for economic reasons. When women's games drew smaller crowds it was more feasible to play at the home of a more popular team. Now that it's gaining popularity, that reason no longer holds, many feel.

"I don't know how much they made here, but we could have made at least that much on a neutral court," McGraw said.

Assigning sites well in advance would make it easier to promote games and help ensure a profit, Gunter said.

"I think with publicity games on neutral sites would draw and do well," Gunter said. "But we need to do it because it's right. Not many people will lose on their home courts."

McGraw and her players were upset by the raucous crowd at LSU. The 3,000 people attending the game chanted "Go Tigers," and yelled the traditional LSU greeting for opponents of "Tiger Bait," at the Irish.

"It was definitely the most hostile environment we've seen," McGraw said. "We've played in front of bigger crowds. It wasn't so much the size of the crowd as what they were saying. I don't know what the players thought, but I definitely think it was un-called for."

Players said the fans did not shout profanities.

"No, but they said things like 'The Irish suck,' and 'You're overrated,' and called us losers" said Notre Dame guard Niele Ivey, who never left the bench in the game. "We're not used to

"They should play more games in the SEC," Gunter that kind of treatment." said. "They'd get used to it."

Related information
Early round games may move to neutral sites
No. 1 Purdue women struggle past Kansas
Holdsclaw leads Lady Vols to 89-62 victory
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