Jackson gets inspiration from beyond

Loss of grandmother spurs Tennessee senior

NCAA women's notebook

College Basketball

April 09, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - Heading into last night's NCAA women's championship game, Tennessee senior Gwen Jackson had been playing some of the best basketball of her four-year career, with a little extra incentive to play well.

Jackson, a 6-foot-2 forward, has averaged 23 points and 12.3 rebounds since the regional semifinal win over Virginia on March 24, including a 25-point, 15 rebound performance in Sunday's semifinal win over Duke.

That date is the day that her grandmother, Laura Jackson, died of cancer at the age of 76.

"She's my angel on my shoulder." said Jackson of her grandmother. "I can feel my grandmother's presence. I talk to her sometimes. My mom thinks I'm crazy. This is my motivation for playing."

Gwen Jackson, who wrote the letters "R.I.P' on her sneakers last night, was unable to attend her grandmother's funeral, and her grandfather was expected to attend last night's game.

"Seeing him happy and dealing with the situation gives me a sense of light and makes me happy." Gwen Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Return to arena

After two years in domed stadiums, the first two years that has happened in women's history, the Final Four will return to a more conventional arena setting next year at the New Orleans Arena.

However, Cheryl Marra, the chair of the Division I women's basketball committee, said that as the tournament continues to grow, the Final Four will likely be staged in domes.

"I can say for myself ... [it] has really been helpful for me to see that we now have had two dome experiences, they have been great experiences." said Marra, a senior associate athletic director at Wisconsin.

"At the same time, I can say we have loved our experiences in a smaller facility and we don't want to go away from that completely. My sense will be we will continue to do both because we have the ability with the women's game to be able to do that."

After next year, the Final Four will take place in 2005 at Indianapolis" Hoosier Dome, before moving to the Fleet Center in Boston in 2006 and to Cleveland's Gund Arena in 2007.

The committee will select sites for the next three years this summer, with Philadelphia, Denver, San Jose (Calif.), Minneapolis, St. Louis, San Antonio and Tampa all submitting bids. The last four cities have indicated that they would be host in their domed stadiums.

Texas-UConn big draw

ESPN reported that its coverage of Sunday's Texas-Connecticut semifinal game was the ninth-most watched college basketball game, men's or women's, in the channel's 23-year history.

The game drew a 3.2 rating and was seen in 2.7 million homes around the country in national ratings and marked a 32 percent improvement over the second semifinal of the 2002 Final Four, played between Tennessee and Connecticut.

The first semifinal game, between Duke and Tennessee, drew a 2.27 rating and was seen in 1.96 million households, a 34 percent increase from the similar game, the Oklahoma-Duke semifinal in 2002.

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