Five things you should know about women's basketball
Basketball is gearing up for the postseason and -- admit it -- women's hoops hasn't been on your radar. With one weekend left before tournament time, here's what the informed Los Angeles fan should know:
1. There's Connecticut, and there's everybody else. Unlike men's hoops, where the top ranking has been a curse, there is no doubt about the best women's basketball team in America. UConn started the season ranked No. 1, won all 30 regular-season games, and is focused on dominating the Big East tournament. If you want to catch some of the nation's best, USC's Galen Center will play host to first and second round of the NCAA tournament March 21 and 23.
2. The Pac-10 has three elite teams. Cal, Stanford and Arizona State are on top of the conference and nationally ranked, with UCLA and USC looking like the best of the rest. The top three teams have lost only to each other, except for this past weekend when the Bruins upset the Bears. You can catch all 10 teams at the Galen Center for the Pac-10 tournament, starting March 12.
3. UCLA (17-10, 8-8) is figuring things out. The Bruins are seeing decent results under first-year Coach Nikki Caldwell, who has already led the team to more wins than it had all last season (16), but they must win their final two regular-season games to equal last year's conference record. The team has been dominant at home, going 13-3 in Pauley Pavilion (second-most home wins in team history). UCLA scored its big upset at Cal without senior starter Tierra Henderson, who was dismissed from the squad for violation of team rules. Fun fact: The Bruins' leading scorers, Doreena Campbell and Erica Tukiainen, are both premed and hope to become doctors.
4. USC (14-13, 8-8) has overcome two big losses. The Trojans lost high school All-Americans Stefanie Gilbreath and Jacki Gemelos to knee injuries at the beginning of the season. It was the second year in a row they lost Gilbreath and third straight year they lost Gemelos. An accomplished senior class was able to carry much of the load, with three players (Brynn Cameron, Nadia Parker and Camille LeNoir) leaving their names in the school record books in different statistical categories. Fun fact: Next season's roster is expected to feature a whopping six McDonald's All-Americans.
5. Women's hoops is full of great story lines this year ... Brittany Spears is one of the top players in the Big 12. The sophomore from Pasadena is a forward for Colorado. ... Whitney Houston is her teammate (honest). ... Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt recorded her 1,000th victory. ... North Texas's Amber Jackson overcame just about everything you could throw at a college athlete. ... 6-foot-8 prep star Brittney Griner will probably steal all the headlines next season with her dunking ability.
-- Adam Rose
Photo: Connecticut guard Kalana Greene shoots over Notre Dame guard Lindsay Schrader. Credit: David Butler II / US Presswire.