Just when Connecticut's All-America center Emeka Okafor seemed to be getting sharp, he took another jolt yesterday.
Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said Okafor was bumped hard and the result was similar to the stinger Okafor got against Alabama in the Phoenix Regional final, when a hard foul jarred his neck and sent a stinging pain down his arm.
Okafor missed three games because of spasms in the muscles around a small stress fracture in his back.
Okafor, a 6-foot-9-inch junior who will graduate in May, was chosen as one of the 10 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as the nation's top college basketball player. Other finalists included Duke's Chris Duhon, Oklahoma State's John Lucas, and Stanford's Josh Childress, who said he will declare himself eligible for the NBA draft but still leave open the option of returning.
Taurasi named finalist
UConn's Diana Taurasi was named one of the five finalists for the inaugural John R. Wooden women's award, as female college basketball player of the year. Joining Taurasi are Duke's Alana Beard, Penn State's Kelly Mazzante, Stanford's Nicole Powell, and Purdue's Shereka Wright.