Carey follows her heart, watches her head

Concussions threaten Texas guard's love of game

Women's NCAA notebook

College Basketball

Ncaa Tournament

April 06, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Don't count on seeing Texas point guard Jamie Carey throwing herself all over the Georgia Dome floor or taking charges in tonight's women's Final Four game against Connecticut, but not because she doesn't want to.

Carey, a 5-foot-6 junior, is a concussion away from seeing her basketball career end, and if doctors at Stanford had their way, she wouldn't be playing at all.

"It's not the very best thing for me [her passion for basketball], but it is a part of my life, but not who I am," Carey said yesterday. "I started playing when I was 5, and it has been a big part of who I am ever since then."

Carey was the Pacific-10 Freshman of the Year at Stanford in 2000 before developing severe concussions and post-concussion syndrome after one she suffered in a November 2000 practice.

Carey, who was valedictorian of her high school class in Colorado, suddenly couldn't remember class assignments and lost her car in a mall parking lot. She also suffered headaches and dizziness. Stanford doctors would not clear her to play for two seasons, for fear that she would suffer permanent brain injuries.

However, a Texas physician, an expert in the field of concussions, examined her in July 2002 and said he saw nothing to indicate that she was in danger of chronic brain injury, and the doctor cleared her to play in Austin, where she transferred.

"I think that the people that are really close to me and those who I discussed the decision with know that I will continue to fight, but they were supportive in my decision," Carey said. "At times, I think they thought I should give it up a little bit, but they always supported me. They understand that I could be walking down the street tomorrow and get hit in the head. Things just happen sometimes."

With Carey going through the season without a concussion or further problems, not to mention being named Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12, things seemed to have worked out.

"She is demanding, she is vocal and she is experienced," said Texas coach Jody Conradt. "I always said this is the sweetest team I ever had. And Jamie sort of tried to get them to not be so sweet on the court, and that, in my opinion, is the most important thing that Jamie has brought to this team."

Honors for Huskies

Connecticut, which spent most of the year at the top of the rankings, swept the Associated Press awards yesterday, as coach Geno Auriemma was named national Coach of the Year and junior forward Diana Taurasi was selected Player of the Year.

Auriemma, who won the award in 1995, 1997 and 2000, received 20 of 44 votes from the panel of media members that votes on the weekly AP poll. Louisiana State's Sue Gunter finished second. Auriemma is the only coach to win the AP award more than once. Duke's Gail Goestenkors was named Naismith Coach of the Year, as well as receiving the honor from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

Meanwhile, Taurasi, a unanimous AP All-America selection, received 23 votes from the same media panel, beating out Duke guard Alana Beard. Taurasi led the Huskies in scoring (16.3), rebounding (6.2) and assists (4.3) in the regular season.

Note the frost

As hard as they try to downplay it, there is a decided chill in the air between the Tennessee and Connecticut programs. The air got a bit colder earlier this month, when Auriemma said that Villanova coach Harry Perreta, who taught his motion offense to Tennessee's Pat Summitt during the past offseason, had betrayed him to "the evil empire" and to an "older woman."

"I never characterize our program," Summitt said frostily yesterday. "You will have to talk to the person that did."

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