As for Woosley, she tried to finish her senior season on the court. But her knee wouldn't allow her. Instead she watched from the sidelines as the Vols reached Sunday's NCAA championship game, where they lost to Connecticut, 70-64.
You would think the toughest question Jack Gardner could field would be the one about which Final Fours are his most memorable. After all, Gardner, who's 85, is perhaps the only person to have attended all 56 of them, and that makes for lots to remember. But the question isn't a tough one: His most memorable came in 1948 and '51, when he coached Kansas State into college basketball's capstone event, and in 1961 and '66, when he took Utah there. Indeed, no one else has twice coached different teams to the Final Four.
Thanks to good health and the indulgence of his wife, Marion, Gardner has been a postseason perennial since 1939. Choosing his most bittersweet Final Four is easy: In the fall of 1965, while coaching at Utah and enjoying a reputation as a guru of the fast break, Gardner took a call from Texas Western coach Don Haskins. It seemed the Bear had an unusually quick team that season, and he wanted pointers on how to replace the walk-it-up offense pioneered by his mentor, Henry Iba. A few months later, as every hoops historian knows, Haskins's Miners, which featured an all-black starting lineup, went on to beat an all-white Kentucky team in the final. To get there, Texas Western ran its fast break past Gardner and the Utes in the national semifinals. Recalling the irony of that defeat, Gardner says, "I became the all-American chump on that deal."
Before it beat UC Riverside 71-63 on March 25 to claim the NCAA Division II crown, the men's basketball team at Southern Indiana hadn't won a national title in its 24-year history. But the Screaming Eagles did receive a favorable omen before this year's Final Four. On March 17, the university inaugurated a new president. His name: Dr. H. Ray Hoops.