Snow isn't quite center of inattention

Despite 7 blocks Friday, she's overshadowed by other Tennessee starters


Women's Final Four

April 02, 2000|By Milton Kent and Christian Ewell | Milton Kent and Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- With Tennessee's other starters drawing so much notice, sophomore center Michelle Snow was the forgotten woman yesterday during the pre-game media briefing, but that didn't stop her from offering some entertaining observations.

Snow, who set a Final Four record in Friday's 64-54 win over Rutgers with seven blocked shots, was more than a little amused by all the attention that top-ranked Connecticut is getting here.

"We're getting so much motivation. I love it when they say, `So, how do you think you can beat Connecticut?' I say: `What do you mean, how can we beat them? We've already beaten Connecticut.' We are pumped and ready to play," said Snow.

Snow said she has drawn particular enjoyment from a tape of a Connecticut team television show that aired there after the Huskies beat Tennessee, 74-67, in Knoxville in January. It seemed to poke fun at the Lady Vols. The team watched it before the return game in Storrs, Conn., in February, won by Tennessee.

"We're not going to discuss what was on that tape. If you're from Hartford, I'm sure you saw it," said Snow. "We're going to watch it [today] and we'll come ready to play."

Snow, who says she eats a piece of peppermint candy before each game so she will not offend her teammates or the opposition, said she thinks she dunked in Monday's regional final win over Texas Tech, but won't argue with those who said it wasn't a real slam.

"I was above the rim, but I definitely wasn't about to flush it. Not when you're only up by two points, and you're risking a chance to go to the Final Four," said Snow.

"I thought that would have been a little dumb on my part. Coach [Pat Summitt] would have called a timeout and come over wringing my neck. That wouldn't have been too pretty.

"We won't count it, since people are questioning it, but I'll give you one that you won't have to question. I'll play fair. I hurt my ankle twice [Friday] night, so I don't think we'll be trying to jump on rims [tonight], but I definitely will come back. We'll be working on this all summer. There will be no questions."

Final what?

Connecticut forward Svetlana Abrosimova has earned all-America honors in two of her three collegiate years, and is possibly the nation's best player.

But in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia, she doesn't expect that tonight's game will get much notice.

"Basketball is not that popular in Russia," Abrosimova said. "Even when I talk to my parents, it's hard to explain what it's all about here. I remember my high school championship game, it was like 150 people and we thought it waws the greatest crowd ever."

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, joking about how he relates to his junior star, said: "How far has our relationship come? Well, our relationship was the best when she was in Russia and I talked to her on the phone."

Lofty aspirations

Could tonight's game, the second No. 1 vs. No. 2 title game, be a watershed moment for women's college basketball like the 1979 title game between Michigan State and Indiana State was for the men's game?

Auriemma doesn't think so.

"You know, that '79 game was more about Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and Indiana State was more of an unknown," he said. "You know, this is kind of like Houston and UCLA at the Astrodome [1969], but for the national championship."

Plug watch

As moderator of news conferences at the Final Four, Debbie Byrne occasionally has to play bad cop.

One instance came when she reminded Auriemma to cover up the Nike T-shirt he was wearing, the one with the Bracketville slogan draped across the chest.

"Am I showing something that I shouldn't be showing?" Auriemma said. "Pretend that you never saw this Bracketville thing."

Earlier, Tennessee guard and Philadelphia-area native Kristen Clement started raving about a cheese steak haven in Center City she called Jim's, apparently her favorite.

She said enough so that Byrne had to step in and say, "That does not reflect an NCAA endorsement."

"I don't want to say anything that would get me in trouble," Clement said, backtracking. "I was just kidding."

Here comes `Boo' Randall

Tennessee guard Semeka Randall has become an enemy of Connecticut fans since she body slammed Abrosimova in a game at Storrs last year, then proclaimed that the skirmish was like a wrestling match.

The reaction has become such that Tennessee fans have nicknamed Randall "Boo" in support.

"They [Connecticut fans] don't know whether to boo me or what. Maybe they'll sit here like we're at a library. Lord knows what they'll do. The crowd doesn't bother me at all," said Randall with a grin.

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