UConn, Tennessee plan for rematch; Only seniors are reserves, and prep stars are coming; sprain bad break for Vols; Notebook; NCAA Women's Tournament


PHILADELPHIA -- Don't be surprised to see these same two teams -- Connecticut and Tennessee -- same approximate time, different place, in next year's championship in St. Louis.

The two players Connecticut loses, Stacy Hansmeyer and Paige Sauer, played a total of eight minutes last night. The two players Tennessee loses, Niya Butts and LaShonda Stephens, played all of five minutes. Paucity of playing time for the departing seniors wasn't an aberration in either case.

Along with Shea Ralph, Svetlana Abrosimova, Sue Bird or Tamika Catchings, Semeka Randall and Michelle Snow, both coaches -- Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt -- are adding top-level freshman talent.

The Lady Vols will add the nation's top prep post player, 6-foot-5 Ashley Robinson, and the Huskies get 5-11 guard Diana Taurasi, regarded by some as the best high school prospect ever.

Snow, without any hesitation, said of her Tennessee team, "we will be back."

Clement's misfortune

Kristen Clement, a starting guard in Tennessee's lineup all season, sprained her right ankle yesterday morning at the First Union Center and had to sit out last night's loss.

For six hours, Clement, one of Tennessee's top defensive players, had been rehabbing a lateral ankle sprain that happened when she stepped on Snow's foot during a walk-through yesterday morning.

More frustrating was having to watch her team's performance during what was its worst title game loss.

"I kind of hoped that I'd be playing, but I guess it wasn't in God's plan," said Clement, who's from Philadelphia. "I would have given anything to go out there, even if it's just to pump my fist up in the air, or to make the hustle plays because it just seemed like we weren't hustling."

No place like dome

Next year's women's Final Four will be in St. Louis' Kiel Center, but the scene shifts after that to two domed arenas, in San Antonio and Atlanta.

Bernadette McGlade, the outgoing chairwoman of the NCAA women's basketball committee, said the women's game is not quite ready to follow the men into permanent rotations in domes.

"We wanted to take the game into domed arenas, but we are still committed to playing in traditional arenas," said McGlade, an Atlantic Coast Conference associate commissioner. "We've got the second generation of women's fans building. The men are probably up to their 20th generation."

McGlade said talk of moving the tournament forward or back to avoid conflicts with the men's tournament is premature, and certainly not to occur before the television contract with ESPN expires after the 2002 season.

"There have been a few select individuals who have started letter-writing campaigns to try to move the tournament, but we really haven't had those discussions," said McGlade. "Basketball season is basketball season. Basically, we ought to start play during the holidays and play in January, February and March."

McGlade said the NCAA would have preferred to have started last night's championship game at 8, rather than 9, recognizing that the sport's audience is a younger one. But McGlade said the committee "deferred" to ESPN's desire to have the game start later. An ESPN spokesman said the later start tends to maximize the audience.

Woman falls out of stands

A woman fell out of the stands and landed in a runway about eight feet below during halftime.

The woman, who was not identified, fell over a railing and into the hallway leading to the UConn locker room at the First Union Center. She was fitted with a neck brace and taken away on a stretcher.

Ushers in the area would not provide any other details, including her name and the nature of her injuries.

Tech presence

The presence of Tennessee and Connecticut in this year's Final Four obscured the fact that Louisiana Tech was not a participant for the first time since 1997.

One who wasn't terribly bothered by this absence was guard Tamicha Jackson, one of three Lady Techsters in the WBCA all-star game Saturday.

Jackson, a Kodak All-America selection, said this weekend was the first time she's been able to experience the event with the blinders off, discovering all of the fan-based venues, like Hoop City.

"The only time I've been to the Final Four is to play, so I thought everyone came here for the game," she said. "There are people who don't even go to the games. They just come here to experience all that's going on here. I may come back next year, from all the fun that I've had here this year."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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