King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Candace Parker and a stifling defense lead Tennessee to its eighth NCAA women's title. Plus: Glorious timeout scarcity.


King Kaufman
April 9, 2008 1:00PM (UTC)

Candace Parker didn't like what happened when she got a lob pass down low and got stuffed by a Stanford triple-team. She complained over her dislocated left shoulder to an official that she'd been fouled, then went to find the ball, which Tennessee point guard Shannon Bobbitt had ended up with. Parker called for it at the left elbow and Bobbitt obliged.

Parker turned, drove hard to the basket, put up a right-handed scoop shot from the left side as she ran over Stanford center Jayne Appel and the whistle blew. Basket good, foul on Appel. Tennessee led 45-35 with 16:09 to go in the NCAA women's Championship Game.

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The TV cameras and microphones caught Parker shouting, "And one! Get off me! Fouled me the first time!" She added the free throw for an 11-point lead.

Parker, the best player in the nation and the no-doubt top pick in Wednesday's WNBA draft, was feeling a lot better about things 12 basketball minutes later. She hit a jumper from the free-throw line with one second on the shot clock and 4:20 on the game clock that gave Tennessee a commanding 58-44 lead. She backpedaled downcourt on defense, smiling, tongue wagging, a second straight championship in the bag.

Stanford was still two minutes away from the end of an 11-minute run in which it scored four points. Tennessee only scored 10 in that time, but that was enough to put away the eighth title for coach Pat Summitt. Tennessee 64, Stanford 48.

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Before, after and between those two displays of emotion by Parker, Tennessee dominated the game with pressure defense. Stanford was never able to settle into its offense. The Cardinal turned the ball over 24 times. The Lady Vols racked up 13 steals, eight of them by Nicky Anosike.

It was so bad that when ESPN sideline reporter Rebecca Lobo asked Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer how she planned to get her team to settle down and handle the pressure better, VanDerveer said something you just never hear coaches say unless they're being sarcastic, which VanDerveer was not.

"God, Rebecca," she said, "I have no idea."

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VanDerveer said her team was "so discombobulated. Their pressure is causing turnovers that I haven't seen all year. We're just not playing with any offensive flow at all." She excused herself, saying, "I better go in there and talk to 'em."

Whatever she said, it didn't work. Tennessee had broken a 7-7 tie with an 8-0 run that ended with about 11 minutes to go in the first half, and that was roughly the gap for the rest of the game. Stanford closed to within four or five or six a few times, but never seriously threatened.

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Stanford star Candice Wiggins, whose status as the "other" Candice despite being a rare four-time All-America illustrates how dominant a player Parker is, scored 16. She'd come into the game averaging more than 27 for the Tournament.

Parker, who played the entire Final Four with a long-sleeved T-shirt under her jersey to cover her shoulder brace, departs now along with the rest of Tennessee's first string. That means Tennessee might -- might -- not be a favorite for a third straight title.

Of course Summitt has a highly rated recruiting class coming in. They don't ever rebuild at Tennessee. They just send their players to the WNBA and another group calls next.

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Women's basketball: Where timeouts go to die [PERMALINK]

The best thing about watching women's basketball on TV, other than the absence of ads for erectile dysfunction medications: They get over with.

TV networks usually allot two and a half hours for a men's game, often only two hours during the regular season. The leading scorer in the last men's college basketball game that ended within its TV time slot was Bevo Francis. When I'm recording a men's game, which I do all the time, I record for at least an hour past the scheduled end. I've never not had to use that extra time. I mean: Never.

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The time slot for Tuesday night's women's Championship Game was also two and a half hours, 8:30 to 11 p.m. EDT. The game ended at 10:41. Nineteen minutes to spare.

The difference is timeouts. Rare is the men's game in which at least one team doesn't run out of timeouts by the end. Usually both do. Teams are allowed to call timeout six times per game.

Women's coaches often -- not always -- don't feel the need to stop the action and give instructions to their players more often than the media timeouts allow. They come every four basketball minutes, so it's not as if they're letting the inmates run the asylum out there. They're just letting their players play.

You know how many timeouts Pat Summitt called during Tennessee's championship victory Tuesday? One. A 20-second job midway through the first half. Tara VanDerveer called a 20-second timeout near the end of the first half and a full timeout -- the only full timeout of the game! -- with 5:46 to go.

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Hey, men's coaches: Those two know what they're doing. Learn from them.

Previous column: Kansas beats Memphis for title

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  • King Kaufman

    King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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