Auriemma and Summit renew rivalry

Brian Stensaas

NEW ORLEANS – After all the hype, all the name-calling and question-dodging regarding said phrases, there was yet another basketball game played between two teams coached by arguably two of the greatest in women’s college basketball.

Connecticut’s 70-61 national championship game victory over Tennessee on Tuesday was a rematch of last year’s title game, with the same result.

But the coaching rivalry between Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma received just about as much attention leading up to the national championship as the game itself.

The peak of the rivalry came at last year’s Final Four, when Auriemma referred to Summitt and Tennessee as “the evil empire.”

This year, Auriemma refused to talk about the incident, calling it irrelevent. Summitt acknowledged all questions, but she blew most of them off.

“We really don’t have a relationship,” Summitt said Monday of Auriemma. “At one time, I thought we had a pretty good relationship. I don’t know why it went south.

“I don’t have his cell phone number. We don’t talk.”

Ratings soar with Gophers

ESPN’s coverage of Sunday’s second semifinal game, featuring Minnesota and the Huskies, was the most-viewed and highest rated women’s national semifinal ever on the network. The game grabbed a 3.5 rating and was also the fourth most-viewed college basketball game – men or women – in ESPN’s history.

All-tournament team

Besides Diana Taurasi’s most outstanding player honor, fellow Huskies Jessica Moore and Ann Strother also made the all-tournament team, as did the Gophers’ Janel McCarville and Tennessee’s Shanna Zolman.