St. Francis, PA - Minnesota Preview
Janel McCarville's outstanding post play was one of the keys to Minnesota's remarkable 2004 NCAA tournament run.
The third-seeded Golden Gophers hope McCarville can lead them back to the Final Four as they open with a first-round matchup against St. Francis, Pa. on Saturday in the Tempe Regional.
McCarville is the first player in Minnesota history to play in the NCAA Tournament in all four years of her career. The Golden Gophers have made just five overall appearances.
The 6-foot-2 center has started all 10 NCAA tournament games she has played and averaged a double-double with 13.6 points and 12.9 rebounds. McCarville set a tournament record with 75 rebounds during the Gophers' Final Four run last season and was named to the All-Final Four team.
McCarville and the Gophers had won five games in a row, including victories over Purdue and Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament, before falling to Michigan State 54-49 in the title game on March 7.
``I'm pleasantly pleased with the No. 3 seed,'' Gophers coach Pam Borton said. ``This shows a lot of respect for our program. There were selection committee members in Indianapolis watching the Big Ten tournament, so I think they saw that our team is on an upswing right now.''
McCarville was named to the Big Ten all-tournament team despite shooting 1-for-17 in the final. McCarville had been solid all season for Minnesota, averaging team highs of 16.7 points, 10 rebounds and 3.8 assists while earning All-Big Ten first team honors.
Jamie Broback is next on the team with 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
McCarville and Broback could face some stiff competition in the low blocks from Red Flash center Beth Swink.
The 6-foot-2 Swink is third in the nation in scoring at 22.7 points per game to go with her team-leading 6.8 rebounds.
Christin Black had 17 points and Swink added 13 as St. Francis won its fourth straight Northeast Conference tournament title, 65-50 over Robert Morris last Saturday.
The 14th-seeded Red Flash extended their winning streak to 14 games and claimed the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
St. Francis has won nine of the last 10 Northeast Conference championships and won at least 20 games in three straight seasons.
The Flash return to the tournament after getting knocked out of the first round by Purdue 78-59 last season. St. Francis, which has never played Minnesota, is 0-8 all-time in the NCAA tournament.
The winner Saturday plays either sixth-seeded Virginia or No. 11 seed Old Dominion.
PROBABLE STARTERS: St. Francis, Pa. - F Black (12.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg), F Schlichter (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg), C Swink (22.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G Amber Hein (7.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg), G Sarah Bolten (9.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg). Minnesota - F Shannon Bolden (5.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Broback (14.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg), C McCarville (16.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.8 apg), G April Calhoun (6.5 ppg, 3.4 apg, 3.3 rpg), G Shannon Schronrock (9.3 ppg, 2.6 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: St. Francis, Pa. - Automatic bid, Northeast conference tournament champion. Minnesota - At-large berth, Big Ten.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: St. Francis, Pa. - 0-8, 8 years. Minnesota - 8-4, 4 years.