Conference tournament taking shape
By Seth Traub, Special to CNNSI.com
The trophy for the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament can now officially be given to top-ranked Tennessee. Although despite their first appearance in two years at the top of the polls, the Vols seem a little more vulnerable than they did last week.
After winning four straight conference games by an average 40 points, Tennessee had to rely on a jumper from Michelle Snow> at the buzzer to overcome No. 14 Louisiana State.
"LSU played a more inspired game against us this time and we were fortunate to get out of there with a win. We had to make plays and play with poise down the stretch, and I'm proud that the team was able to handle that," Tennessee coach Pat Summit said. "It was a very good and valuable learning experience."
Tennessee, Georgia and Florida have all clinched first-round byes in the tournament, while LSU and Vanderbilt are fighting for the last opening. Depending on how Georgia finishes its final two regular-season games against Alabama and Vanderbilt, Florida will find itself at No. 2 or No. 3 with one more win.
If the Gators can't pull that off, LSU would need to win the rest of their games to put Florida in the No. 4 seed. But if the Tigers do not, they may find themselves having to play a first-round game.
If the Commodores win out, and LSU does not, Vanderbilt holds the tiebreaker between the two and would earn the bye.
M*A*S*H unitIt's a good thing 11th-ranked Florida rolled to win nine of its first 10 conference games, because the Gators have not looked the same since their 30-point loss to Tennessee.
In fact, with two more starters listed as day to day for this week's top-25 matchup with Louisiana State, there are more injured players on the Gator roster than there are fully healthy.
An injury report that already had three players sidelined for the season has gotten a little longer this week.
Senior Tombi Bell and junior Monique Cardenas both suffered injuries in Florida's loss to Mississippi State on Sunday.
Bell sustained a concussion with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining in the game after colliding with Bulldog senior Meadow Overstreet.
Cardenas suffered a deep bruise to her right tibia on the final play of the game. She went to the hospital for X-rays following the game but nothing serious was found.
Both will be game-time decisions against LSU.
Last week juniors Brandi McCain and Naomi Mobley nursed chronic injuries and remain listed as day to day.
McCain missed the Feb. 15 game against Mississippi because of inflammation in her right heal.
Mobley separated her right shoulder during the Tennessee game Feb. 11, and it has been extremely sore since. She played 29 minutes against Mississippi, but scored just 3 points -- all from the free-throw line. That means four of UF's starters possibly could be out for this week's game.
"We are banged up, but it's a challenge we have to overcome," Ross said. "I feel confident, irregardless of who plays and who doesn't. If we defend and take care of the ball, we will give ourselves a chance to win."
More nomineesRegrettably I forgot to mention some of the finalists for the 2000-2001 Naismith Female Player of the Year are from the conference.
There were actually eight players from the SEC -- more than half of the total candidates.
I neglected to mention Mississippi State's LaToya Thomas -- this week's player of the week -- and Louisiana State's Marie Ferdinand.
They join the list I already mentioned of Vanderbilt's Chantelle Anderson, Tennessee's Tamika Catchings and Michelle Snow, Georgia's Coco Miller and Kelly Miller, and Florida's Brandi McCain.
Seth Traub is a reporter for the Independent Florida Alligator, the student paper that serves the University of Florida.