March 07, 2005

Gunter improving in recovery from pneumonia

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Former LSU women's basketball coach Sue Gunter was removed from a ventilator and is talking as she recovers from pneumonia.

``I was amazed when I walked into her room,'' coach Pokey Chatman said Monday. ``She was sitting up, looking so much better.''

Gunter, who has severe emphysema, was sedated and attached to a ventilator when she was admitted to the hospital March 1. Chatman said Gunter will be moved from the intensive care unit to a room.

Chatman went to see Gunter before LSU left for the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday. Chatman said she also called Gunter before the Georgia and Tennessee games.

Gunter sat out part of last season because of poor health and Chatman, then an assistant, led the team to the Final Four. Gunter retired last April after 40 years of coaching and 708 victories.

Stanford moves to No. 1 in women's poll

Stanford finally made it back to the top. The Cardinal are No. 1 again in women's basketball.

With a big assist from Tennessee, Stanford took over at No. 1 in The Associated Press poll on Monday -- the first time the Cardinal have led the rankings since December 1996.

They replaced LSU after the Lady Tigers lost to Tennessee 67-65 in the championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament on Sunday. LSU had led the poll for the last five weeks and had a six-week run at No. 1 earlier in the season.

LSU (29-2) dropped to No. 2 and Tennessee (26-4) climbed two spots to third. Neither will play again until the NCAA tournament. Stanford (28-2) played Arizona State on Monday night in the championship game of the Pac-10 tournament.

Five teams split the 45 first-place votes from the national media panel, with Stanford getting 28. LSU received 10, Tennessee had three and No. 4 North Carolina and No. 6 Baylor each received two.

Stanford had 1,089 points in the voting -- 30 more than LSU. Tennessee was another 37 points back.

``I'm really excited for our team to be ranked No. 1,'' Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ``It's a really special team and it's a great compliment.''

Wisconsin-Green Bay and TCU returned at the bottom of the poll after being ranked earlier this season. Maryland and Gonzaga dropped out.

Stanford was No. 1 in the first six polls of the 1996-97 season, when VanDerveer returned to the school after guiding the U.S. basketball team to the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics. The Cardinal's only other appearance at No. 1 was the first poll of the 1992-93 season, seven months after they won the national championship.

Since its last appearance at No. 1, Stanford has won or shared seven Pac-10 championships, reached the Final Four once and spent nine weeks at No. 2, including four weeks this season.

Stanford won this season's Pac-10 title behind Candice Wiggins, the first freshman named the league's player of the year. The Cardinal finished five games ahead of second-place Arizona State and won their conference games by an average of 24.9 points.

North Carolina held at No. 4 and the next three teams all moved up one place each -- Duke, Baylor and Michigan State. Ohio State fell five places to eighth, the biggest drop in the poll, after losing to Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinals.

Rutgers remained ninth and Notre Dame stayed at No. 10.

Texas was 11th and Minnesota jumped three places to 12th. Then it was Connecticut, Texas Tech and Temple, followed by DePaul, Kansas State, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and North Carolina State.

Georgia, Penn State, Boston College, Wisconsin-Green Bay and TCU held the final five places.

Wisconsin-Green Bay (26-3) was ranked for two weeks in mid-February, then fell out after a loss at home to Youngstown State. The Phoenix bounced back to win four straight and reach the championship game of the Horizon League tournament.

TCU (23-9) returned to the Top 25 after winning the Conference USA tournament, a run that included a victory over then-No. 12 DePaul in the semifinals. The Horned Frogs were ranked 23rd for two weeks early in the season after beating Georgia, Michigan State and Oklahoma. They lost three straight after that before recovering to win 16 of their last 20.

Maryland (21-9), which was 25th, had been ranked all season and climbed as high as 15th. The Terrapins won three games last week before losing to Duke by 30 in the ACC tournament semifinals.

Gonzaga earned its first national ranking two weeks ago but couldn't hang on after its 23-game winning streak was broken with a loss to Santa Clara on Sunday in the finals of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Stanford's move to No. 1 was the fourth change at the top of the poll this season. Tennessee led the first three polls and was replaced by LSU, which was No. 1 for six weeks before giving way to Duke. Duke led for three weeks before LSU returned to No. 1 on Jan. 31.

No. 9 Rutgers 64, Villanova 59

Rutgers' trademark defense has the Scarlet Knights playing for the Big East tournament title for the second straight year. Led by Cappie Pondexter and conference freshman of the year Matee Ajavon, No. 9 Rutgers turned up the pressure on Villanova.

Connecticut 67, Notre Dame 54

No. 7 Michigan St. 55, No. 12 Minnesota 49

Michigan State stopped Minnesota's strong inside tandem, and Liz Shimek scored 15 points in a 55-49 victory Monday night that gave the seventh-ranked Spartans their first Big Ten tournament title.

No. 15 Temple 70, George Washington 62

Candice Dupree's secrets are safe with Temple coach Dawn Staley. ``I know the things that would give her problems, but I'm not going to say,'' Staley said Monday night after Dupree led the Owls to their second straight Atlantic 10 tournament title.

(4) North Carolina 88, (5) Duke 67

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Fourth-ranked North Carolina put a harsh end to Duke's run at Atlantic Coast Conference history, getting 26 points from Ivory Latta in an 88-67 victory Monday night in the tournament championship game.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils were seeking to become the first team -- men's or women's -- to win six straight ACC tourney titles. But they went down with surprising ease despite 26 points from Monique Currie.

Camille Little added 23 points for the Tar Heels (27-3), who won their first ACC tournament in seven years and completed a three-game season sweep of the rival Blue Devils (28-4).

Duke had beaten North Carolina 12 straight times entering the season, but the Tar Heels used their athleticism and speed to shut down the Blue Devils in a tournament that had become little more than the Duke Invitational.

The Blue Devils had won 17 straight tournament games and were 19-0 all-time in the Greensboro Coliseum. Included were two victories in the 1999 NCAA East Regional that propelled Duke to its first Final Four.

The top-seeded Tar Heels had struggled offensively for much of the tournament, trailing ninth-seeded Miami in the quarterfinals and rallying from a 17-point deficit to beat Virginia in the semifinals.

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said the Tar Heels would have to play much better in the final to beat Duke, which had won its first two tournament games by a combined 87 points.

But North Carolina's offense -- thanks to an early spark from Little -- shook off a slow start to build a 12-point first-half lead. Then, after the Blue Devils closed the gap to 44-41 early in the second half, the Tar Heels finally put their one-time nemesis away with a 27-10 run.

The Tar Heels got contributions from just about everywhere. Freshman Erlana Larkins, quiet for most of the game, had two inside scores and assisted on a kickout 3-pointer by Little and a backdoor layup by Latta. She was chosen as the tournament MVP.

Latta also had two key plays to set up baskets, making a no-look bounce pass to La'Tangela Atkinson for a 3-pointer and feeding Little for a 3 just before the shot clock expired. That shot pushed the lead to 71-51 with 8:12 to play and had the Tar Heels starting to celebrate.

North Carolina pushed the lead to as many as 25 points, with Duke getting no closer than 12 thereafter.

Atkinson had an excellent game for the Tar Heels, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Larkins added 16 points and 10 boards, helping the Tar Heels to a 53-37 rebounding advantage.

North Carolina shot 44 percent, went 10-for-19 from behind the 3-point arc and scored 16 second-chance points off 18 offensive boards.

Duke struggled with its shooting all night against North Carolina's aggressive defense, going five minutes without a basket during the decisive surge. The Blue Devils shot just 33 percent -- including 6-for-18 from 3-point range.

No comments: