Today's semifinal

March 31, 2000|By Milton Kent

Tennessee (32-3) vs. Rutgers (26-7)

Time: 7 p.m.

Site: Philadelphia


Conference records: Tennessee finished tied for first in the Southeastern Conference with a 13-1 record and won the league tournament. Rutgers tied for third in the Big East with a 12-4 mark and was runner-up to Connecticut in the league tournament.

Coaches: Tennessee's Pat Summitt is 727-149 in 26 years at the school. C. Vivian Stringer is 621-190 in 28 years of coaching; 101-59 at Rutgers in five seasons.

Starting lineups:

Tennessee: PG Kara Lawson (13.7 ppg, 2.7 apg), G Kristen Clement (5.6 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Semeka Randall (14.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg), F Tamika Catchings (15.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg), C Michelle Snow (12.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Rutgers: PG Tasha Pointer (9.6 ppg, 5.5 apg), G Karlita Washington (5.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg), F Shawnetta Stewart (14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg), F Davalyn Cunningham (5.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg), C Tammy Sutton-Brown (9.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg)

Bench strength: Rutgers has shuttled a number of players through its starting lineup, with eight different players getting at least 10 starts. Forward Linda Miles has been the first Rutgers player off the bench in recent weeks. Tennessee freshmen April McDivitt and Gwen Jackson have provided steady minutes for the Lady Vols.

Key matchups: Lawson vs. Pointer. Lawson has the size and strength to post up the smaller, more slender Pointer, but if Pointer can hawk Lawson, she'll force Tennessee to start its offensive sets out higher, making the matchup zone even more effective.

What Tennessee must do to win: Hit the outside shots. The Lady Vols connected only once in nine tries from three-point range in Monday's regional final. A similar performance will permit Rutgers to clog the middle of the floor.

What Rutgers must do to win: Control the tempo. The Scarlet Knights, who shoot only 43 percent from the floor as a team, can't afford to get into a running game with Tennessee; killing the clock and keeping the score low is their best hope for a win.

Bottom line: Tennessee has too many weapons and seems to be too driven to be stopped, though if Catchings' ankle isn't up to snuff, Rutgers could neutralize the rest of the Lady Vols' attack. Don't count on it.

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