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Morning line

Sneaker superstitions

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Posted: Sunday April 02, 2000 12:41 PM

  Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and player Svetlana Abrosimova field questions during a news conference. AP

By Trisha Lucey, Sports Illustrated for Women

The Connecticut players were all given pairs of the dark blue Nike basketball sneakers featured in the Bracketville commercial ("A pair a day keeps the upset away") before the Regionals. I wondered how this change was handled by the more superstitious members of the team. For example, Paige Sauer insisted on continuing to use a cracked eraserboard throughout the tournament for fear that getting a new one would bring the team bad luck. Sauer told me "I thought it was hard for some people but the first time we wore them we had a great practice, so I think everyone was like, OK this works." So far it has worked.

The Tennessee lockerroom after the game looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. There were ice bags everywhere, especially on April McDivitt who had one on each knee, one on her right wrist and one on her left thigh. The thigh injury occurred last night when a Rutgers player inadvertently kicked her during a scrum for the ball.

Looking ahead to the finals:

Connecticut will win if ... The Huskies get their offense clicking and Sue Bird keeps on hitting big shots. Defensively, they have to find a way to contain Semeka Randall, who burned Connecticut for a combined 37 points in the teams' two previous meetings this year. "It's just a matter of who wants it more," Shea Ralph told me. "It's like somebody throwing the national championship up in the air and whoever knocks out the other one to go get it is the winner."

Tennessee will win if ... Tamika Catchings doesn't wait until the second half to score points like she did against Rutgers. Kara Lawson also must have another solid game at the point guard spot, but it's hard to imagine this 18-going-on-40 freshman will be anything but cool, calm and collected.

Prediction: Tennessee is not as deep as Connecticut, and they're hampered by a few injuries. They have an excellent chance of winning this game. However, I think Connecticut might want this championship a little bit more. They will be cutting down the nets Sunday night.

Sports Illustrated writer Trisha Lucey is covering the Final Four in Philadelphia for the magazine.

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