A career of tragedy, triumph concludes

Douglas misses at buzzer, but exits Purdue a winner

Women's notebook

April 02, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ST. LOUIS - The road has already been so long and punishing for Purdue senior guard/forward Katie Douglas.

Her parents died of cancer during her four years in college, a teammate was killed by a drunken driver, and she played for three different coaches from the time she was recruited until last night's 68-66 loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA women's title game.

So when her 16-foot desperation shot at the buzzer rolled around the rim and out, ending her college career with another disappointment, it seemed a sad but fitting conclusion. But Douglas, who scored 18 points, refused to wallow in the moment.

"Not a lot of people expected us to be in this position," said Douglas, whose three-point play with 1:22 gave Purdue its last lead at 66-64. "There's no point hanging our heads. I'm proud of this team and what we've done."

Indeed, Douglas and her four senior teammates leave as the winningest senior class in Big Ten women's history with a 111-26 record, as well as the 1999 national title.

"It's like I told them a while ago," said Purdue coach Kristy Curry. "They are going to walk out of here tonight a winner. That's what matters. And they are going to win the game of life. Those five seniors are going to go out in the world and do pretty good."

Dome, sweet dome

The popularity of the women's game continues to grow, as evidenced by the fact that the next two Final Fours will be played in San Antonio's Alamodome and in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

Donna Noonan, vice president of the NCAA Division I women's basketball championship, said that after nine straight sellouts in conventional arenas, the tournament committee elected to experiment with the larger domed settings.

Noonan, however, was concerned that the bigger building might take away some of the intimacy of the game, noting that the 2004 Final Four will be in the 20,000-seat New Orleans Arena, not the Louisiana Superdome.

"We're not sure the domes are going to work for us," said Noonan. "You do lose the ambiance of a basketball arena in a dome, and the committee is sensitive to that. We also want to have flexibility in where we can go, since there aren't many domes west of the Mississippi."

The men's tournament committee elected in 1997 to stage Final Fours in only domed stadiums.

Noonan added that the committee is considering moving the Final Four from a Friday-Sunday format to a Sunday-Tuesday format in conjunction with spreading the regionals out from being staged entirely on Saturday and Monday to over a four-day period, as the men do. Pending approval from the NCAA Management Council, the earliest such a change would be made would be for the 2004-2005 season.

Maryalice Jeremiah, the chair of the tournament committee, said she hopes to get Management Council approval to predetermine the sites for the first and second rounds; in the current format, the top four seeds in each region host first- and second-round games.

Schools could bid on hosting but would not be able to host more than two years in a row in a three-year span.

Miscellaneous

Notre Dame's two losses were by a combined three points: a one-point setback at Rutgers in February, and a two-point defeat at Connecticut in the Big East tournament final. The Irish trailed at halftime of each of those losses and at halftime of both Final Four games ... The win is the first national championship at South Bend since the women's soccer team captured the NCAA crown in 1995. ... The Boilermakers are the only school to reach the women's Final Four with three different coaches - Lin Dunn in 1994, Carolyn Peck in 1999 and Curry.

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