Facing Baylor helped K-State prepare for UConn

PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press Published:

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Kansas State has never faced Connecticut, but the Wildcats believe they are better prepared for Monday's matchup with the perennial women's power after facing top-ranked Baylor three times this season.

"I think the two teams play so extremely different, however I think having played Baylor you at least come into a matchup against UConn knowing you have played against the best," said coach Deb Patterson. "Mentally you have played against great teams and phenomenal players, programs that have won a national championship. The main thing to build upon is the positive you may have gained from the mental challenges and lessons you have learned."

Forward Jalana Childs says after facing Baylor's imposing 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, she is looking forward to what she considers a better matchup with UConn's center, 6-5 Stefanie Dolson.

"I think with UConn, I will take outside shots, but I won't have to change my game to that extent as if I was playing Baylor," said the 6-2 Childs.

K-State lost all three meetings with Baylor this season, by 35, 29 and 21 points. UConn also lost to Baylor, by five points.

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PRESIDENTIAL PICK: Maryland coach Brenda Frese isn't mad at President Obama for picking No. 7 seed Louisville to upset the second-seeded Terrapins in the second round.

To the contrary, she's thankful.

"I was actually thrilled," Frese said Sunday. "During the season, when I've had different people tell me the picks are against us, we've won those games. So I was actually pretty excited when I heard it."

Maryland (29-4) shocked Duke at home on Feb. 19 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament as third seed. After defeating Navy in the first round of the NCAA tournament, they're going up against a Louisville team that beat Maryland in 2009 to advance to the Final Four.

"We've had to prove ourselves all season long," Frese said. "This isn't any different."

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FRIENDS ON THE ROAD: Before becoming West Virginia's head coach in 2001, Mountaineers coach Mike Carey had a stellar career playing and then coaching at his alma mater, Salem College in Salem, W.Va.

Yes, coaching men.

His record when the Mountaineers hired him was 288-102, and he's 227-126 in Morgantown. He's also led West Virginia to the NCAA tournament six times, and five of the last six years.

Carey's team have never faced Stanford and Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, whose career mark of 858-199 includes two national championships, but he appreciates her humility.

"I've watched her a lot on TV and watched her teams a lot on TV and know what kind of career she's had," he said Sunday as his team prepared to play the top-seeded Cardinal Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. "She's a great coach and very down to earth, I have noticed.

"When I see her on the road, (she) talks, and you'd be surprised," he said. "Some coaches don't even talk to you. She's not like that. Very down to earth, talks, very pleasant, and with the career she's had, she could rightfully so not be like that, but she's not like that."

Carey declined to identify the coaches who aren't as willing to chat.

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MORE AT HOME: UTEP players had seen the movie "Glory Road," which recounts how the school's men's team, under late Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins, became the first to win a national championship with an all-black starting lineup.

But most were unaware they would be opening this year's women's NCAA tournament on the same campus where parts of "Glory Road" were filmed.

The scene in which UTEP, then known as Texas Western, defeated then-coach Adolph Rupp's Kentucky squad in the 1966 national championship game was filmed in LSU's Parker Coliseum. The stadium, built during the 1930s, is where LSU played home games back when Pete Maravich was on the squad in the late 1960s.

On Sunday night, UTEP's women were slated to open tournament play against Penn State at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, just across campus from where the coliseum still stands.

Coach Keitha Adams said learning about the connection to the movie made her UTEP team "feel a little bit more at home."

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NO MID-MAJOR RUNS: Tennessee-Martin coach Kevin McMillan doesn't see any mid-major team making a run to the women's Final Four anytime soon.

McMillan, whose team lost to Tennessee in the tournament's first round on Saturday, says the talent pool on the men's side is more spread out, in part because the men give out fewer scholarships.

"You've got 15 women's and you've got 12 or 13 men's, so the higher teams in the power conferences got more of the players," he said. "If it's going to be called where the athletes win, there are only six conferences in the country that have those athletes and the rest of us are trying to play a different way."

McMillan says until that changes, there will be no Butler-like run to the Final Four in the women's tournament.

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Associated Press sports writers Hank Kurz, Brett Martel, and Andrew Seligman contributed to this report