Growth of Baylor MVP Young has been no easy bank shot

She had no backboards as youth

Augustus lauded

Women's notebook

Ncaa Basketball Tournament

April 06, 2005|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - Every path to the Final Four is admittedly individual, but the course Baylor's Sophia Young has taken began without a backboard.

Young, a native of St. Vincent in the West Indies, grew up playing net ball, a variation of basketball played with seven people to a side and without a backboard. Her 26-point, nine-rebound performance in last night's national championship game indicates that she has the winning formula.

"This actually makes everything worthwhile," said Young, who was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four. "I don't know what kind of player I'm going to be. Hopefully, I'll develop into a better player."

Young, a 6-foot-1 junior who averaged 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, was named to the prestigious Kodak All-America team last weekend after playing only six years of organized basketball since she arrived in Shreveport, La., from the Caribbean.

She managed to fly under the radar because of her lack of experience and Baylor's lack of exposure, but with the Lady Bears winning an NCAA title, she'll certainly be among players discussed for next year's national Player of the Year awards.

"She's just so graceful," said Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie. "She's just a beautiful student-athlete, the way she moves. She's a great player. I think [she's] the best four-player [power forward] we have seen all year. That kid's an All-American."

Augustus honored

LSU forward Seimone Augustus completed her sweep of postseason awards yesterday, as she was named Naismith Player of the Year.

Augustus, a 6-foot-1 junior who averaged 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game in leading the Lady Tigers to a second consecutive Final Four appearance, finished ahead of Duke's Monique Currie, Ohio State's Jessica Davenport and Texas Christian's Sandora Irvin in voting by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club.

Neutrality on way

Now that the women's tournament has joined the men's tournament in using a pod system for first- and second-round games, where teams from different regions are sent to one of eight different sites, the next step toward moving to make the tournament totally neutral is to take the regionals off home sites.

That will come as early as 2007, according to Lynn Parkes, the outgoing chair of the Division I women's basketball committee, when schools will not be permitted to play in a regional on their home court. This year, Temple and Arizona State advanced to the regionals on their own floors.

Attendance at some of the regional sites was poor. In Kansas City, for instance, the semifinals drew 3,143, while the final game between Michigan State and Stanford attracted just 2,475. The Tempe Regional drew 8,213 for the semifinal, but just 3,213 for the regional final, once the home team, Arizona State, had been eliminated.

Parkes said the committee will consider awarding regional sites on a two-year basis, to allow host cities time to build interest in that area.

The committee also has decided, at ESPN's request, to move the announcement of the 64-team field from Sunday to Monday, starting next year.

"In this particular case, they [ESPN] feel that we have an opportunity and we have come to the point where we agree, in that they're creating a situation where we will own the night. It will be our show, we have a guaranteed one-hour window," said Parkes, alluding to the fact that the selection show in recent years has been shortened by the Big 12 men's tournament final.

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