DAYTON, Ohio -- Count Geno Auriemma among those who were relieved to see top-seeded Tennessee get ousted Saturday from the women's NCAA tournament in a 77-62 loss to third-seeded Baylor in the semifinals of the Memphis Regional.
Brittney Griner, Baylor's heralded 6-foot-8 freshman center, helped usher the Lady Vols' out of the tournament with 27 points and 10 blocked shots. It derailed a potential matchup between archrivals Tennessee and UConn _ whose coaches have a well-documented dislike for one another _ in the national semifinals of the Final Four in San Antonio.
The top-seeded and undefeated Huskies (36-0) pulled one step closer to reaching the Final Four with its dominant 74-36 victory over fourth-seeded Iowa State Sunday in the semifinals of the Dayton Region. UConn, which extended its record winning streak to 75 games, will next face third-seeded Florida State in Tuesday night's regional final at the University of Dayton Arena.
Asked if he was disappointed that a potential matchup against Tennessee and coach Pat Summitt no longer loomed on the horizon, Auriemma pursed his lips and shook his head, saying, ``No.''
Asked why that was the case, Auriemma replied, ``I don't worry about teams that aren't playing anymore. I worry about teams that we're playing now. If we're fortunate enough to win Tuesday, I think it'll be a great Final Four.''
But, had Tennessee remained alive and advanced to face UConn, ``It would've been a lousy Final Four,'' Auriemma said. ``It would've been all about Geno and Pat and that would've really sucked _ for the other two teams there, the kids, everybody.''
Auriemma wasn't certain if it UConn-Tennesse was a marquee matchup everyone was eager to see, one which had the potential of helping draw more attention to the women's college game.
``If we're fortunate to win Tuesday night, we'll be playing a better team than Tennessee, the team that beat 'em,'' Auriemma said, predicting a Final Four matchup against Griner and the Lady Bears. ``So that's how you grow the game. You grow the game by somebody beating us Tuesday night, that's how you grow it. You don't grow it by seeing the same teams playing each other every year.''
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell