Consolation? Whalen and McCarville earn honors

NEW ORLEANS – Even in defeat, there was a silver lining to Minnesota’s women’s basketball team’s Final Four appearance.

No one expected the Gophers to get this far – and surely not many would have expected this.

Star guard Lindsay Whalen and center Janel McCarville were both named Women’s Basketball Association Kodak All-Americans over the weekend.

It is the first time in the program’s history that two players earned the honor in the same season.

Whalen, a three-time selection and probable first-round pick in this month’s WNBA draft, finished her career as Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points. McCarville, meanwhile, grabbed seven rebounds Sunday night, and now holds the record for most rebounds in an NCAA Tournament with 75.

In the feat, she passed Tracy Claxton of Old Dominion, who had 72 total rebounds in the 1985 tournament.

Assist queen

With her eight assists against Tennessee, LSU’s Tameka Johnson set the record for most assists in an NCAA women’s tournament. She finished LSU’s six-game run with 50 helpers. The previous record-holder was Louisiana Tech’s LaQuan Stallworth, who finished the 1998 tournament with 47 assists in six games.

With the team’s loss, though, there will be no LSU deja vu. The Tigers’ football team won the national championship in the Superdome, which is adjacent to the New Orleans Arena.

Close calls

All five previous NCAA basketball championship games held in New Orleans have been decided by an average winning margin of 2.8 points.

Some memorable highlights from these games include: Michael Jordan’s game-winning shot against Georgetown, giving North Carolina the men’s title in 1982, Hakim Warrick’s block on Kansas last year, sealing the win for Syracuse, and Chris Webber’s infamous timeout call when Michigan had none – ultimately giving the Tar Heels the 1993 championship.

New Orleans is also just one of six cities to host the women’s Final Four twice, joining Norfolk, Va., Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, Tacoma, Wa., and Atlanta.

Arena madness

New Orleans Arena is hosting its second NCAA women’s championship involving Minnesota in less than four months.

The NCAA women’s volleyball Final Four was held there in December. The Gophers lost to eventual champion USC in the national semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Arena, which opened in 1999 at a cost of $124 million, is among the hottest stops on local music tours.

Metallica, Eric Clapton, Shania Twain and Louisiana-native Britney Spears all have upcoming concerts at the venue.

Bark of the underdog

The combined seeds of this year’s Final Four equals 14, which is a tie for second-highest with the seeds of 1992 and 1994. The highest total ever was in 1998, when the seeds totaled 17 (top-seeded Tennessee, third-seeded Louisiana Tech, fourth-seeded North Carolina State and ninth-seeded Arkansas).

UConn do it

This year marks the fifth time ever a school has both its men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Final Four at the same time. No institution has ever won the respective titles in the same season.

The UConn women have never lost in a national championship game, going a perfect 4-0.

Gophers tidbits

The loss to UConn broke Minnesota’s 30-game win streak versus nonconference opponents.

Minnesota was out-rebounded 36-25 against UConn, only the second time the Gophers have been out-rebounded in their 12 NCAA Tournament games.

Freshman Jamie Broback hit two three-pointers against UConn, giving her only 12 for the season.