Full Court Press has selected its Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in women's college basketball, along with our NCAA Division I All-American and Freshmen All-American teams. It should come as no surprise that the top two honorees will be facing off on Sunday in the Final Four in a battle of excellence -- present and future.
In a battle between University of Connecticut teammates, Tina Charles was named Full Court Press Player of the Year, displacing her teammate and last years winner, Maya Moore, who finished second in this years voting.
Given what we have all seen in the NCAA Tournament, it should be no shocker that Baylors Brittney Griner was selected as the Full Court Press Freshman of the Year. Finishing second in the voting was Notre Dames Skylar Diggins.
Both awards, along with the All-American teams, were chosen by a panel of Full Court Press correspondents and analysts. Read on to see who else made the cut.
So much for home-court advantage, at least as far as the 2010 Postseason Womens National Invitational Tournament is concerned.
The California Golden Bears earned it for Saturdays championship game, but if recent history is any indication, they may not want it.
Cal overcame a sluggish start by both teams in front of a record-setting crowd of over 6,000 fans in Normal, Illinois, Thursday night to knock the Illinois State Redbirds out by a score of 61-45 and earn home-court advantage for the championship game. The final will tip off Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. Pacific time and will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports.
The Golden Bears' win came one day after Miami (22-13) blew out Michigan in Ann Arbor, 76-59, to advance to the championship game. The wins set up an intriguing match-up between two programs on the rise. Miami wins with its offense and rebounding, Cal with its defense and rebounding.
What else is there to say? Connecticut, which looked a bit out-of-sync in the Big East Tournament (despite a series of 20-plus point wins), is playing its best defense of the season, and shooting the ball well in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament. It is hard to imagine who is going stop them.
Connecticut completely dominated the Dayton Regional. It was no surprise that they won their two preliminary-round games over Southern and Temple, but by more than 50-points per game?!? Neither did it come as a jolt when they advanced through Sweet 16 play with a 74-36 win over Iowa State, or even that they won their Elite Eight match-up against Florida State to return to the Final Four and defend their national championship title.
But their 90-50 shellacking of the Seminoles is a good measure of just how well these Huskies are playing, and how difficult they will be to beat. Florida State is no patsy: they were ranked No. 12 in the nation by Full Court Press and No. 11 by the AP and coaches' polls to start the tournament. They played Connecticut closer than anyone else in the regular season, fighting their way to finish within 20-points of the Huskies in a 59-78 loss.
So while it was no surprise that Connecticut won, the 40-point margin was most definitely a statement. It was the most lopsided victory in Regional Final history.
Every other team headed for San Antonio this weekend has been tested. Stanford narrowly escaped an Elite Eight upset by Xavier, pulling out a 55-53 in in the final four-tenths of a second to earn its berth in the Final Four. Oklahoma had to upset second-seeded Notre Dame in a Sweet 16 game that went to overtime just to get to the Elite Eight, and survived a brief scare in the early going before storming past Kentucky to advance through Kansas City. And Baylor? They just had to upset both top-seeded Tennessee (which they did quite handily, with a 77-62 Sweet 16 win) and second-seeded Duke, who played them to within three points.
Not the Huskies. So just how is it that UConn is that much better than some of the elite teams in the nation that it managed to sail through it's regional with no one coming closer than 38 points down?
Coaches often speak about dividing a game into four-minute segments; they want their teams to win each time span between media timeouts.
Based on that theory Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell should have been extremely happy after the second timeout in the Wildcats' Elite Eight game against Oklahoma Tuesday. Sooner Coach Sheri Coale, on the other hand, must have been equally unhappy.
Neither stayed that way for long.
The Wildcats were quick out of the gate, rolling out to an early 17-4 lead, and though the Sooners gradually began to pick up some steam, when the first whistle blew, Kentucky was still on top, 21-13 , and they were playing the game the way they wanted. The Wildcats were using their speed and quickness to disrupt the Sooner offense and create scoring opportunities from their defense.
But the Sooners are a veteran team with Final Four experience and they settled into a groove and battled back. Nyeshia Stevenson and Amanda Thompson stepped up to lead their team and the Sooners outscored the Wildcats, 75-57, over the last 32 minutes of the game to easily defeat Kentucky, 88-68, and advance to their second consecutive Final Four. Oklahoma's resilience says a lot about how the Sooners are apt to respond should Stanford run up a quick lead on them in San Antonio Sunday when those two teams meet in the semifinal game of the Final Four.