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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Pac-10 Teams Aiming to Make a Statement

October 31, 2002|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The NCAA women's basketball tournament ended nearly eight months ago. But the Pacific 10 Conference is still feeling the sting of having only two teams -- Stanford and Arizona State -- placed in the field of 64.

"It was a slap in the face," USC Coach Chris Gobrecht said during Pac-10 media day on Wednesday. "We've been preaching that our nonconference schedules should be together; nonetheless, they weren't that bad last year. Even though we were a young conference I still say what happened last year was wrong."

Other coaches described the NCAA selection committee's snubs as a wakeup call. And one of the responses was to schedule every women's basketball team short of the Sparks.

Some of the big-name opponents playing Pac-10 schools in the 2002-03 season include defending NCAA champion Connecticut; Final Four representatives Tennessee and Oklahoma; and Kansas State, Boston College, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, Georgia, Texas Tech, New Mexico and Louisiana State.

All of them expect to start the season in the top 25 or wind up there eventually.

"We heard all about the [lack of strong] scheduling and RPI stuff last year," Oregon State Coach Judy Spoelstra said. "I don't know if enough schools took heed....

"We have to be 10 schools strong in this conference. We can't just let one or two schools pull us up."

Beefing up the nonconference schedule is only part of the solution. The conference needs more victories -- quality or otherwise -- before other regions begin to give it the kind of respect it feels it deserves.

"We can't talk about it; we have to act upon it on the court," Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer said. "You have to play the [good] teams but you have to beat them."

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