Kingston regional full of successful programs

The Associated Press Published:

KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) -- Going by the names on the locker rooms, it's hard to tell whether Kingston, R.I., is hosting a men's or women's NCAA regional.

Connecticut, Kentucky and Gonzaga all are playing in the semifinals, along with Penn State, a traditional football power.

"That's some company right there," said Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves. "The names are synonymous with basketball."

Graves and Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell both credit the schools' administrations with being committed to bringing the women's program up to the level of the men.

Kentucky is hoping to pull off a double national championship, something only accomplished once, by UConn in 2004.

"We had a unique setup in the hotel room last night. I was watching Gonzaga on the DVD while others were watching the men's team play," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell. "It' a lot of fun to be part of an environment that's so positive. I think the kids feed off of each other and the excellence of the Kentucky men's program has helped up tremendously."

UConn is playing in its 19th consecutive regional semifinal, and will try to win an eighth national championship. Its men have three others.

"UConn is the standard by which everyone is judged," said Gonzaga senior Kelly Bowen. "They're a great team and they have been for years, so it's nice to see our name next to their locker room."


SUPPORTIVE TENNESSEE: Many of Tennessee's players slipped the hoods of their warmup jackets over their heads when they came out for Saturday's NCAA tournament regional semifinal game against Kansas in Des Moines, Iowa.

It was a deliberate gesture designed to show support in the case of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's shooting death. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was fatally shot by self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who has not been arrested or charged in connection with the shooting.

"It's something that we talked about before. We've done it in the past, but it's a lot more significant (now)," Lady Vols star Glory Johnson said. "The whole situation that happened is just sad, and we just would like something to be resolved."


GRINER'S DUNK: Duke guard Shay Selby caught Brittney Griner's two-handed slam for Baylor in its win over Georgia Tech.

"It was a two-handed dunk," Selby said Sunday. "You can't beat that, especially in the women's game."

Selby wouldn't put it past Blue Devils 6-foot-3 freshman sensation Elizabeth Williams dunking in a game one day -- just not now while she's playing with a stress fracture in her lower right leg during Duke's NCAA tournament run.

"I want to see that from E.," Selby said.

The second-seeded Blue Devils (27-5) will face No. 1 seed Stanford (34-1) in the Fresno Regional final Monday night for a berth in the Final Four in Denver. Duke hasn't reached the Final Four since 2006.

Coach Joanne P. McCallie is all for growing interest in the women's game through the excitement of seeing women dunk if that's what it takes. If Williams can pull it off, more power to her.

"Well, I haven't seen it. I've got to see things. I've heard it," the coach said, smiling. "I would encourage any player to go after their talents, whether it's a dunk or anything else. It's great to see the women's game growing, it's great to see the excitement of the women's game."

Williams isn't the dominant player she has been considering the injury, but McCallie knows she can still do more even with her limitations and appreciates the center's "courage" through the challenges of playing hurt.

"I think she's doing a great job in the situation. We've seen Elizabeth at the highest possible level. It's been hard for her," McCallie said. "I'd like to see her A game, I haven't seen her A game at the tournament."


KNEE BOUNTY?: Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike is prepared for a serious round of bump-a-knee.

Ogwumike peels back the protective sleeve on her sprained right knee to reveal a taping job designed to keep her kneecap in place. On top of it all goes a bulky brace.

Ogwumike gave her team two scares Saturday night, twice going to the ground hard in a 76-60 victory over South Carolina in the Fresno Regional semifinals. Her big sister, Nnemkadi, was quick to support her sister, grabbing the sophomore's hand and helping her up.

"That's what the tournament's about, falling and getting back up. Lucky," Chiney said.

Coach Tara VanDerveer said there wasn't any thought to resting the sophomore star for the remainder of the game.

"A lot of players get bumped, they get knocked down," VanDerveer said. "She wouldn't play unless our medical people gave her 100 percent clearance, which she had."

Chiney figures opponents know she is limited in her mobility and try to attack that weakness -- she would do the same thing.

"This knee is more resilient than these bounties," Ogwumike said with a chuckle before Sunday's practice at the Save Mart Center, where the top-seeded Cardinal will take on No. 2 seed Duke in Monday's Fresno Regional final. "Nneka calls it bionic leg and it's bionic."

The knee will heal in the offseason and doctors assured her she won't make the injury worse by playing on it.

"It's going to be all out tomorrow," she said, then noted the interesting matchup of two top academic institutions. "Nerd on nerd."


AP Sports Writers Luke Meredith and Janie McCauley, and Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report.