STORRS, Conn. (March 13, 2005) - The University of Connecticut womens basketball team has been selected as the No. 3 seed in the Kansas City Region of the 2005 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament, the NCAA selection committee announced Sunday.
The Huskies will play their opening round games at Gampel Pavilion (10,167) in Storrs, Conn., on Sunday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 22.
No. 3 seed UConn (23-7) will face No. 14 seed Dartmouth (17-10) in first round action in Storrs, Conn., on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, while No. 6 Florida State (23-7) will battle No. 11 Richmond (23-7) approximately 30 minutes later on ESPN2.
The other half of the Storrs draw (Philadelphia Region) will pit No. 3 seed Rutgers (25-6) vs. No. 14 seed Hartford (22-8) on ESPN approximately 30 minutes after No. 6 seed Temple (27-3) faces No. 11 seed Louisiana Tech (20-9) at 12:00 p.m on ESPN2 and ESPNU.
Sundays first round winners will advance to the second round games on Tuesday, March 22. The winners of Sunday's afternoon will play at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2 while the winners of the Sunday evening contests will meet approximately 30 minutes later on ESPN2.
The winner of Tuesdays Kansas City Regional second round game will advance to the Regional Semifinals which will be played at Municipal Coliseum (9,827) in Kansas City, Mo. on Sunday, March 27. The Kansas City Regional Final is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29.
The winner of Tuesdays Philadelphia Regional second round game will advance to the Regional Semifinals, which will be played at The Liacouras Center (10,206) on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia on Sunday, March 27. The Philadelphia Regional Final is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29.
Each game of the 2005 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament will be televised live on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN Fullcourt.
Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Doris Burke (color) and Erin Andrews (sideline) will call the first and second round games at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.
The Huskies, who have claimed the last three NCAA titles and four of the last five overall, will be making their 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and own a 53-11 (.828) mark all-time in NCAA play.
Connecticut has advanced to the Final Four in each of the last five seasons (an NCAA record) and has earned a spot in the sports marquee event a total of eight times in the programs history.
The Huskies earned an automatic berth in the 2005 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament after claiming the BIG EAST Tournament crown last week in Hartford.
UConn had been an at-large seed in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments after earning the BIG EASTs automatic bid for nine consecutive seasons (1994-2002).
This season marks only the second time since 1998 that UConn hasnt been selected as a No. 1 seed.
The Huskies are 3-1 all-time in NCAA play as a No. 3 seed, which has happened only once previously, in 1991 when they advanced to the first Final Four in the programs history before falling to Virginia (55-61) in the national semifinals in New Orleans.
The Huskies boast an all-time mark of 28-3 in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of Connecticut, including wins in the last 26 straight such games.
During nine of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments (since 1994) the Huskies have either won the National Championship or have lost to the eventual champion.
GENO AURIEMMA QUOTES
Thoughts on the brackets:
We play Dartmouth and, then we play the winner of the winner of Richmond/Florida State. I remember back when we were really, really, good we had Louisiana Tech, Virginia and Alabama. We were undefeated, no. 1 in the country, and we had to beat Virginia, who was 16-0 in the conference that year. Every year you have to beat somebody really good. Its just a matter of who are they, and where do you play them? Thats why I dont get too caught up in what seed we are. I think, more than ever before, they had a tough job this year. They did some neat things. They put LSU as the no. 1 seed in Chattanooga, which is really good. They moved people around for the first time unlike they ever did. They didnt give in to what people thought. I think they probably went by strength of schedule, records and all that good stuff.
On possibly facing teams they previously lost to:
We said all along going into the BIG EAST and NCAA Tournament that somewhere along the line were going to be in the position where we are going to run into a couple of the teams that beat us. If you play enough good teams youre going to run into a team that beat you. Whether its Tennessee, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, whatever. It happened in the BIG EAST Tournament: Notre Dame, Rutgers. Lets put it this way, I hope that we get a chance to play Michigan State because that will mean its to go to the Final Four. So I hope we get the chance to play Michigan State or whoever is in that position. That would be a good thing, but I am not thinking about that right now.
What is the key to getting to the Final Four?
The key for us to get that far, well we have to play two games next weekend just like the three we played in the BIG EAST Tournament. Then we have to play two more like that. So we have to play four games just like the three we played in the BIG EAST Tournament. I dont know that you are going to play two betters teams than Notre Dame and Rutgers, I dont think. But at the same time you dont know them as well as you know Notre Dame and Rutgers. Like anything else if we stay healthy, shoot the ball well. Were going to play good defense, so (the key) is to stay healthy and shoot the ball well.
On Jennifer Rizzotti:
Jennifer has worked really hard to build that Hartford program to where it is today. When she took over the program you cant imagine how bad it was. For her now to be in the NCAA Tournament two out of the last four years, shes always wanted to have this state of Connecticut embrace them. Well, she got her wish. The entire state of Connecticut is embracing the Hartford Hawks. I guarantee it.
On the Hartford Hawks not having to travel far from home:
They dont deserve to (have to travel far). They are actually a very good team. Im glad that they get to play. I think that will be Jennifers first time coaching at Gampel Pavilion. That will be pretty cool. Thats going to be really neat. Im kind of looking forward to it. Its a good thing for her. I just hope she stays healthy. Maybe it will be a Cinderella story. They go to the Regionals, have a baby, do all kinds of things.
CONNECTICUT PLAYER QUOTES
Senior Jessica Moore
I think everyones pretty happy with where we were seeded. We kind of had our fingers crossed for Tempe, AZ because its so warm there right now but well make do with what we got.
What has been the teams focus over the past few days?
Weve had a few days off so I think everybodys just been thinking about what great wins weve had in the Big East Tournament and now were just focusing on what we have to do in order to get prepared and be confident going into the tournament.
On Michigan State
We were really hoping to get at least one of those teams that we lost to this year so I think that that will be a great match up.
How far have you guys come?
Weve come a long way. Its been a roller coaster season and it seems that were a completely different team. I can honestly say that looking at us then (last time UConn faced Michigan State) and looking at us now, its like two completely different teams and thats a really good thing for us. If we just keep playing the way that we are
.everyones confidence level is really high right now and were really looking forward to the next couple of games.
What is the teams mindset on winning four championships?
Were just going to take it two games at a time. Just like we did last year. It's not try to win six games, its just try to win these two games. Its like a little mini tournament. It we can do that, I think that will work really well for us.
Junior Ann Strother
Im really excited. I think its going to be a great bracket. I dont think any of us knew where we were going. There were a lot of up in the air teams. I think were all just really excited to get this tournament started.
Its kind of exciting (not knowing where they were headed). I mean the last two years we kind of figured wed be around here so itll be kind of nice to go somewhere else. Not that our fans wont be there
.thatll be kind of a bummer but itll be exciting.
On looking ahead to Michigan State
I dont think you can. I think you just have to take it game by game and not look forward too much. But you do look at whos in your bracket and itll be great to have another shot at them in the end, but well see.
Do you think that this team can win another six in a row?
I hope so. I really think its possible if we play the way that we can and if we look at it as three mini two-game tournaments. Thats all were focused on right now.
Junior Barbara Turner
Im grateful for what I did in the BIG EAST Tournament but Im hoping to have that carry that on to the NCAA Tournament.
We know what it takes to approach an NCAA Tournament. We know the mindset that is required to be successful. I think we just do a good job at responding to everything that Coach is throwing at us and I think thats why were so well prepared
Are you excited to put the regular season behind you?
I put the regular season behind me before the BIG EAST Tournament. I wasnt even really thinking about that. At this point, its 0-0. You really cant look at any past records or anything like that. Its only how you approach things and do things now that matters. You can go 30-0 in the regular season and loose the first round of the tournament and thats negates everything. Its how you approach things now that will carry you through the tournament.
On their placement
I thought we were going to end up in Philadelphia or Kansas City. I was actually thinking Tempe for a minute too so that kind of through me off but I had a feeling that we were going to be in one of the two cities. I really dont think it matters where you play or who you play. Its just a matter of your mindset and your preparation.
On Michigan State
Im not thinking about Michigan State. Weve got Dartmouth to play first so Im thinking about Dartmouth.
Freshman Mel Thomas
On her first NCAA Tournament
Were just really excited and following the lead of these guys (the upper classmen) whove won three in a row, were just really excited. We just have to go out there and take each game one at a time
Are you nervous at all?
Not really. I dont really think that theres anything to be nervous about.