With 3 SEC refs on court, Barmore gets eerie feeling


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore is a teacher first.

Thus, it should have surprised no one to see him propose a research assignment during the middle of his team's news conference yesterday at Kemper Arena.

"Let me ask some of you to do a little research for me," Barmore said. "If [Tennessee coach] Pat Summltt was sitting here, knowing that three Sun Belt officials would call the game, I wonder what she'd be thinking."

The flip side is that Barmore, whose team lost to North Carolina in the last second of the 1994 championship game, must beat perhaps the best team in history-which plays in the Southeastern Conference-in a game officiated by three SEC referees Sally Bell, Wesley Dean and Bob Trammell.

"I never have been concerned, and don't know how they're selected," he said. "But it does give me an eerie feeling."

So along with the advantage of having the nation's deepest and most talented team and possibly the best player ever in Chamique Holdsclaw, Summitt - perhaps the game's best coach-gets a shot at her sixth title with three referees from her own conference.

What can she say?

"I don't think there's any one dimensional players on the floor tomorrow," Summitt said. "And I don't think there are any one-dimensional officials. We [the SEC] have officials that call on a number of conferences. I'll tell you this: don't think the officials will determine the outcome of the game, I think the players will."

Holdsclaw says she'll return

Until she says otherwise, Holdsclaw, a junior, is not leaving college early to play professionally in the Women's National Basketball Association or the American basketball League, contrary to popular belief.

Though she said she had thoughts of leaving during last season - when Tennessee suffered 10 losses before winning the national championship - Holdsclaw appears poised to remain at Tennessee.

Asked if she had any thoughts about turning pro, Holdsclaw said, "None at all. As far as I'm concerned, I'll be in Knoxville next season."

Though many athletes have issued similar declarations only to change their minds, Holdsclaw said being the first woman to turn pro early isn't necessarily a milestone she wants to set.

An opportunity to win more championships and a pledge to her grandmother to get her degree are primary motivations that would keep Holdsclaw at Tennessee.

"I have a commitment to this program, a commitment to my grandmother," said Holdsclaw, who needs 17 rebounds to pass former USC star Cheryl Miller as the tournament's all-time leading rebounder (170) and 32 points to become the leading scorer, passing Tennessee's Bridgette Gordon (388) .

Hidden heroes

Conventional wisdom says that Louisiana Tech's Alisa Burras, who runs like a guard at 6-foot-3,: may be able to run Tennessee post players La8honda Stephens and Teresa Jeter ragged.

Though Jeter played a key role in the Nov. 21 win over the Lady Techsters-with 10 points, five blocks and five rebounds in the second half-Stephens said, "I could see where people would say that [Tech has an advantage]. On our team, the focus is on the three Meeks [Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall], so they don't focus on the inside players and the things we do to help the team."


Tonight's meeting will be the fifth between the teams in the Final Four. Tennessee beat Louisiana Tech 11 years ago for its first title. Towson Catholic graduate and former Coppin State coach Tori Harrison was in the lineup for Tech that day, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in a 67-44 loss... Tennessee's Catchings, daughter of Harvey Catchings (Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks), is not the only player with NBA blood lines. Louisiana Tech's Priya Gilmore, who provided quality minutes in Friday's win over North Carolina State, is the daughter of former NBA star Artis Gilmore.

Pub Date: 3/29/98

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