Third time is no charm for Duke, Goestenkors

Blue Devils empty-handed again after semifinal trip

College Basketball

Women's notebook

April 07, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Just as it took a certain Duke men's basketball coach with an unusual last name a few trips to the Final Four to break through for a title, so it would seem that it will take awhile for Gail Goestenkors to get a championship.

Goestenkors, who has brought the Blue Devils to three Final Fours in the past five years, has come away empty each time. Duke lost the 1999 title game to Purdue and last year's semifinal to Oklahoma.

Last night's 66-56 loss to Tennessee, which came at the end of a brilliant season - the Blue Devils ran their Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament winning streak to 43 games - was the latest disappointment for Goestenkors and her players.

"This defeat does not change the season we had," said Goestenkors, who is 272-83 in 11 years at Duke. "We've broken so many records, Duke records, ACC records. In my mind, we played like champions. The only thing I ever ask of my team is that they play as hard as they possibly can. And they did that tonight."

The Blue Devils lose only one senior starter and a senior reserve, so they should be back in the hunt next season, especially with two returning All-Americans in guard Alana Beard - a preseason candidate for National Player of the Year - and forward Iciss Tillis.

Format debate

The NCAA sparked controversy by changing the tournament format from the system in which the top four seeds in each region were host to first- and second-round games.

This year's format, where 16 predetermined schools were hosts of first- and second-round games, met with near universal scorn from coaches - even from those who got to hold those games.

"Well, I think it had the absolutely perfect effect," said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. "It proved how stupid an idea it was. So I think it had the exact effect that a lot of us hoped it would, you know."

Auriemma and other coaches took particular exception to the fact that lower-seeded teams, Old Dominion, the 12th seed in the Mideast, and Oklahoma, the 10th seed in the West, were allowed to play higher seeds on their floor.

The NCAA devised the format change as the first step toward playing the tournament on entirely neutral sites, as the men's tournament is staged.

"There are only two ways to rectify the situation: Either you go back to giving the teams that earned the top seeds the home court during the regular season, or on `Selection Sunday' you give the top two seeds in each region the home court and send eight teams to each site and then only two teams have home-court advantage," said Auriemma. "At least you will be guaranteed that a lot of people will be at the games. So it couldn't have played out any better to be honest with you."


Duke's 35 wins match the total amassed by Maryland (10), North Carolina State (11) and Clemson (14) from the Atlantic Coast Conference. ... Texas is the fourth school in NCAA history to have both its men's and women's teams advance to the Final Four, and the second school from the Big 12 to pull off the feat in as many years. Oklahoma sent both its teams to the national semifinals last year. In all three previous cases, (Georgia 1983, Duke 1999) neither team won the title. ... Dee Kantner, one of the first two women to officiate in the NBA, worked the second semifinal last night. ... The Georgia Dome is only the second building to play host to the men's and women's Final Fours in consecutive years. Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., played host to the 1985 men's and 1986 women's semifinals.

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