Tampa Bound

By Jeff Lippman - April 02, 2008

I'm going to Tampa!

For the purposes of this blog, I guess I should mention so is LSU, Stanford, Tennessee and Connecticut.

Were the Lady Vols and Huskies so impressive in their regional final matchups? Not really, but that's what is so impressive about it.

It's like fate playing tricks on their opponents. Giving hope when there was none to give.

Everyone knows this is Connecticut and Tennessee's year to shine. The season where two teams who historically meet each year fail to find each other until the ultimate contest. But to say Texas A&M and Rutgers didn't make it interesting would be to disrespect God's design.

Tennessee could have pounded the Aggies. Texas A&M shot poorly and it seemed like Candace Parker had 18 points by the opening tip. But that didn't happen. And to make matters worse, Parker dislocated her shoulder early in the second half.

In the end, though, it didn't matter. The Lady Vols were supposed to win. They got their act together. Alexis Hornbuckle and Shannon Bobbitt came up with some big shots and Parker, wincing in visible pain, did the rest.

I feel for Rutgers. I really do. It's not fair what fate did to them. They actually thought they could win last night.

UConn was losing all night. The Scarlet Knights came out firing on all cylinders and were leading by as much as 14 points in the first half before an offensive snowstorm by the girls in white closed the halftime lead to 32-27. Still, that was Connecticut's lowest halftime scoring total of the season.

Rutgers' defense confused and impeded the Big East champs worse than anyone had all season. Freshman sensation Maya Moore finished with just seven points, only her second single-digit performance of the season. Renee Montgomery finished 4-of-14 from the field and 1-of-9 from long range.

You tell me how Connecticut could beat Rutgers with their best two players having off nights and the Scarlet Knights running on premium gasoline.

Because that's how fate scheduled it. And, in the end, the universe righted itself. Moore got an open look from three and although she'd struggled all night, this one, with three minutes left in the game, went in like it had eyes to break a tie and propel the Huskies to the 66-56 win.

"I would say maybe it's our turn," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma after witnessing last night's game. "Also, I think the price some of these kids have paid, the last four years and this year in particular, they were destined and due. They've risen to every challenge they've faced and I couldn't be prouder."

Big words from what sounds like a very proud papa. But the key words in what Geno said was, "they were destined and due." The Huskies were destined to reach this year's Final Four. They were destined to meet Rutgers one more time after splitting in the regular season, and that happened. And now, they are destined to meet Tennessee in the national championship game.

But should their destiny be true once more, and the Lady Vols and Huskies do meet in the title game, it will be out of fate's hands and into the hands of coach Summitt and Auriemma and their players.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:43 AM on April 02, 2008

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