STORRS, Conn. (March 14, 2004) The No. 2 seed University of Connecticut womens basketball team will face No. 15 seeded Pennsylvania on Sunday, March 21 in the East Region of the 2004 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament, the NCAA selection committee announced Sunday.
No. 7 Auburn (21-8) and No. 10 North Carolina State (17-14) will face of at 7:00 pm on espn2 and the UConn/Pennsylvania game will follow approximately 30 minutes after game one, which will also be televised on espn2.
No. 2 seed UConn (25-4) will face No. 15 seed Pennsylvania in first round action in Bridgeport on Sunday, while No. 7 Auburn will battle No. 10 North Carolina State.
Sundays first round winners will advance to the second round game on Tuesday, March 23.
Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Doris Burke (color) will call the first and second round games at The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.
The winner of Tuesdays second round game will advance to the East Regional Semifinals which will be played at the Hartford Civic Center on Saturday, March 27. The East Regional Final is scheduled for Monday, March 29.
The Huskies, who have claimed the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four overall, will be making their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and own a 47-11 mark all-time in NCAA play.
Connecticut has advanced to the Final Four in each of the last four seasons and has earned a spot in the sports marquee event a total of seven times in the programs history.
This season marks the first 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. 2 seed, which has happend only once previously, in 1998 when they advanced to the East Regional Final before falling to No. 4 seed North Carolina State 60-52 in Dayton, Ohio.
The Huskies are 32-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament in which they are placed in the East Region and boast an all-time mark of 24-3 in NCAA Tournament games played in the state of Connecticut, and have been victorious in the last 22 games overall.
During eight of the last 10 NCAA Tournaments (since 1994) the Huskies have either won the National Championship or have lost to the eventual champion.
On if the #2 seed is a disappointment
I dont think its disappointment
we knew after the BIG EAST Championship that we probably werent going to get a #1 seed, which is fine with us
we never dictate how were going to play the tournament because of our seed, so were not worried about it.
On being able to play the first four games in-state
Whenever you can play in your own state for four games and not really have to travel, and stay where your fans are going to be able to come and watch you play, its definitely an advantage for us. We always play really well at home, so its definitely a plus for us.
On the Bridgeport site already being sold out
Thats why they put the games there, because they know our fans will come watch, and they werent going to put us out of the East, obviously, they were going to keep us here so people can come watch us play
[our fans] are great, and theyre going to come watch us play no matter what seed we are.
On if the team is disappointed with the way they finished the season
Yeah, I think were disappointed
we take pride in winning the BIG EAST regular season
and the conference tournament kind of gets you ready for the postseason, so were definitely disappointed with how we ended in the BIG EAST, but thats why you play in March. You kind of get another chance
its another season and you get to keep going, so were excited, and anxious to get playing.
On whether losing helps in some aspects
I dont know
obviously, last two years we were going in [to the NCAA Tournament] with a loss
my first two years we ran the table before we went to the tournament, so I guess either way it kind of helps you. It depends how you look at it.
Head Coach Geno Auriemma
On playing in Bridgeport
Well, thats the chance that you take when you have these predetermined sites
you hope that the team in that region is good enough to earn their way there. So the fact that its in Bridgeport and we had a good enough regular season to have them put us there
its great for our players because we dont have to travel very far, and its great for our fans who bought the tickets anticipating wed be there
but when its all said and done, youve got to go in there and youve got to play, and as the BIG EAST Tournament proved, it doesnt matter whether youre home or neutral or on the road. It doesnt matter
if you play well, youre going to have a chance to win, and if you dont, youre going to have a chance to get beat.
On coaching in the pre-1995 years
Back then we were limited to one head coach, and we had one full-time assistant and one part-time assistant. Since 1995 when we won a national championship and we sell-out, now we have about 10,000 assistant coaches that come to every game. So thats been a big change, but other than that, everythings been pretty much the same from a coaching standpoint. From a playing standpoint its different, because when you play in front of 9,000 empty seats, its hard to generate the kind of enthusiasm and the kind of energy level you want. I was just watching a film the other night of our 1991 Final Four team, and we played at Gampel against Auburn, and there were 800 people at the game in 1991. So, we played just as hard and we were just as focused on winning, but now theres a lot more electricity in the air, and it feels more like a big-time college event than it did back then, but Im not sure that we approach it any differently then we did back in those days.
On the recent losses, and if the time off was good for the team
We didnt play that well at Villanova. Villanova shot the ball really, really well against us
they shot 70 percent I think in the second half, and we really struggled to get anything going. I thought we played really well against West Virginia, and I thought we played pretty well, at least defensively, against a really good Virginia Tech team. I dont think we played that badly against Boston College, and Boston College shot 70 percent or 69 percent or whatever. So I dont know that we played all that bad, but certainly we didnt play well enough to win two out of the last four games. When you win 100 out of 103, losing two out of four is disastrous. Its viewed upon like its the end of the world. I dont know that it was that bad, and the 10 days off I think are good, regardless of whether youre playing well or not playing well if youve got some injuries, and we certainly do. It just gives us a chance to get healthy, and come next Sunday well be ready to go.
On the #2 seed
Theres a certain point that you reach when you just feel like you take it for granted. You win enough games and youre a #1 seed, and then when youre a #1 seed its just assumed that youre going to go to the Final Four. And we didnt win enough games I guess this year. Its kind of ironic, because we won the regular season in a league that has the most teams going to the NCAA Tournament of any league in the country, and we beat the #1-seeded team in the whole country on the road at their place. And we lost to the #2-seeded team in the whole country at home by one point on a last-second shot. So, I guess we were horrible this year, and we deserve a #2 seed. And with that comes this feeling that were one of the teams thats expected to put up a good fight, but were not really expected to go to the Final Four. So, I guess well find out once the games begin next Sunday.
On the #2 seed being extra motivation for the team
I dont know
at this time of the year I dont think any of that stuff works. The only thing thats different between a #1 and a #2 seed is basically who you play in the semifinal if you get that far. I dont know that theres going to be that much difference. I dont know that if youre a #1 seed and you play the winner of the #8/#9 game
that its a lot easier than if youre the #2 seed and you play the winner of the #7/#10 game. So really, its just for publicity, and for talking about it
and were not going to concern ourselves with that. Theres not enough time left to get into all that stuff.