A meager 9,758
fans showed up for the NCAA women's championship game in Tacoma, Wash., last
April 2 even though the men's finals were played the day before and the day
after only 25 miles away in Seattle. So what was the NCAA thinking about when
it scheduled the 1990 women's finals in a 24,000-seat arena in Knoxville,
Tenn.? Having a sellout, that's what.
To reduce the
risk of empty seats, defending champion TENNESSEE must reach the Final Four,
but fear not, the Lady Vols will. They have made the finals in six of the last
eight years, a record of success matched only by LOUISIANA TECH, another sure
candidate to show up in Knoxville. The Lady Techsters were written off last
season with a lineup that included only one player taller than six feet, but
that player was 6'4" center Venus Lacy, who led Tech to the finals by
averaging 21.3 points and 11.9 rebounds and who now returns for her senior
season. "She'll carry a big burden," says Louisiana Tech coach Leon
Barmore, "but she's very strong."
coach Pat Sum mitt lost three starters from last year's national championship
team, and has only one senior and two juniors on the roster. "I don't think
I realized how young we were until we started practicing," says Summitt.
That inexperience may cause a few more losses, but the Vols have plenty of
talent. Tonya Edwards, the MVP of the 1986-87 national championship team who
missed most of last season with a knee injury, returns at guard. She will share
the backcourt with 5'4" freshman Jodi Adams, a sharpshooter from
three-point range. "She shot more three-pointers in the first week of
practice than we shot all last year," says Summitt, whose team made only
six of 27 in 1988-89.
shoot that many in one game. Coach Tara VanDerveer has brought the Cardinal
into title contention by employing the three-pointer wisely and often. Last
year Stanford was undefeated in the Pac-10 and made 135 three-pointers en route
to a 28-3 record. With that mastery of the trey and four starters returning,
Stanford is our pick to upset the old guard in Knoxville.
up-and-coming team is LSU. Last season the Lady Tigers were only 19-11 but had
victories over Texas, Georgia, Long Beach State and Ole Miss, all of whom were
ranked in the Top 10 at the time. Coach Sue Gunter has three 1988-89 starters,
including April Delley, who averaged 20.1 points and 9.8 rebounds before being
declared academically ineligible 10 games into the season.
The ACC should be
the country's second-strongest conference after the SEC, with NORTH CAROLINA
STATE and VIRGINIA contending for the title. The Wolfpack has the conference's
best player in 5'10" Andrea Stinson, whose 23.6-point average led the ACC.
Center Rhonda Mapp has been suspended for eight games for violating team rules.
Her return will give N.C. State the lift it needs to win the ACC.
And keep an eye
on UNLV, which has four first-stringers coming back from a 27-7 team. Senior
Geannine Jordan joins her twin sister, Pauline, in the starting lineup, and
while they are not identical twins—Pauline is 6'3", Geannine 6'2"—pair
Jordan will give Vegas a formidable front line.