Oklahoma still shines bright in spotlight

Loss to UConn doesn't dampen season

WTC flag presented before game

Notebook

NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament

April 01, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

SAN ANTONIO - While virtually everyone in women's basketball circles expected Connecticut to get to and win last night's national championship game, the Oklahoma Sooners made it there off the collective radar screen, even with a No. 1 seed.

But the Sooners, in their initial trip to the big stage, did themselves proud, pushing the Huskies to the final two minutes, before losing, 82-70.

"Let me tell you, while we weren't good enough to beat Connecticut for the national championship, our squad was right," said Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, who was recommended for the job by Connecticut's Geno Auriemma.

"And when you're part of something that's right, you know it and it affects what you do for the rest of your lives. So, that's why we do this thing. How lucky I am to get to do this thing."

The Sooners (32-4) lose six seniors, including guard Stacey Dales, a two-time All-America, but have come a long way from the 15-14 season that greeted them.

"We were going to be emotional anyway, because the six of us are done playing with these people and the hardest thing about it all is knowing that you're not going to put this uniform on," said forward Jamie Talbert. "We fought hard and we did some really good things. Connecticut is just good."

Special tribute

An honor guard of New York Port Authority police officers and San Antonio firefighters along with two players each from Connecticut and Oklahoma presented the flag that flew over the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 before last night's game.

The flag will go to Atlanta for tonight's men's championship game.

Oldfield to Maryland

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported in today's editions that Minnesota coach Brenda Oldfield has been offered the head coaching job at Maryland.

Oldfield, who was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year on Thursday, guided the Golden Gophers to a 22-8 season, the school's best NCAA record ever and a share of second place in the Big Ten, one season after the team had gone 8-20.

Oldfield, 31, was the youngest coach in the conference and would replace Chris Weller, who retired after the season after 27 years in College Park.

Dome sweet home

For its first time in a big stadium, the women's Final Four did all right, says the chair of the women's Division I basketball committee.

Maryalice Jeremiah, who heads the nine-member panel that selects the tournament field and votes on Final Four locations, said the decision to bring this year's championship to a large domed stadium came with some trepidation, but the move has paid off.

"There were a lot of doubters that this could happen, that we could put 30,000 people in here," said Jeremiah before last night's championship game. "We could not be happier with what has happened this weekend. It's historic. It's the most people ever to watch a women's [collegiate] game."

Though the 1988 and '89 Final Fours were played in the 10,000 seat Tacoma (Wash.) Dome, the women's Final Four had never been staged in a building the size of the Alamodome, and Jeremiah, who is the senior associate athletic director at Cal State Fullerton, said she wasn't sure the game was ready for a stadium this large.

Next year's Final Four will be played at Atlanta's Georgia Dome, the site of this year's men's Final Four.

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