Philadelphia is still No. 1 in Geno's heart
San Antonio - UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who has taken his team to 11 Final Fours, was asked this week his favorite site among them.
He began to laugh.
"Minneapolis," Auriemma began, compiling a list of all the places the Huskies have won national championships. "Philadelphia. San Antonio. St. Louis. New Orleans. Atlanta."
He called Philadelphia site "1A," as Auriemma is a Philadelphia native and was surrounded by his friends and family members. He labeled San Antonio, in which he has now put the cap on two separate 39-0 seasons, as "1B."
UConn won its first national title in Minneapolis in 1995, followed by Philadelphia (2000), San Antonio (2002), Atlanta (2003), New Orleans (2004), St. Louis (2009) and this year's title back in San Antonio, The Alamo City.
San Antonio features a River Walk, with restaurants and shops lining the San Antonio River, creating a festive atmosphere for fans, who are able to travel from stop to stop on foot.
"This is a great town," Auriemma said this week. "I wish they could have it here every year. I really do. I think the fans have the best experience here. I think the teams have the best experience here. The people here do a phenomenal job hosting the event.
"I don't think anybody would be disappointed if San Antonio had the Final Four every single year. … I just wish our hotel bar would stay open later. Somebody call them."
Of the 11 Final Fours, UConn has lost in New Orleans (1991 semifinals), Charlotte (1996 semifinals), St. Louis (2001 semifinals) and Tampa (2008 semifinals), later avenging the losses in New Orleans and St. Louis.
VP in the house
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, attended Tuesday night's game at the Alamodome, creating extra security measures for fans, as well as media members. The couple was not made available for interviews.
"We are thrilled Vice President and Dr. Biden will attend the championship game," NCAA vice president Sue Donohoe said. "The Women's Final Four is the pinnacle of success for our basketball student-athletes, who excel on the court and in the classroom.
"The women's basketball community is honored the vice president and his wife will be here for the championship game."
One shining moment
Stanford junior guard Jeanette Pohlen made one of the signature plays of the NCAA tournament when she dashed end-to-end for a layup with 4.4 seconds remaining in the Cardinal's 55-53 victory over Xavier in the Sacramento Regional final.
The shot propelled Stanford into the Final Four and denied Xavier.
Stanford senior All-American Jayne Appel, who cut down the net following the win, gave it to Pohlen, the Cardinal's point guard.
Did Pohlen know she was so fast?
"Not at that time," Pohlen said with a smile. "… My biggest thought was let's get a good shot off. If I missed the shot, we would have gone to overtime, so it wasn't the end of the world. It's cool to think we're at the Final Four and everything, but I haven't even really thought about that shot we've been so busy."
Auriemma, in speaking about the NCAA tournament, defined Pohlen's shot as what it's all about.
"I think that's every kid's dream and every coach's dream or nightmare if you're on the other end. And every fan loves that kind of an ending," Auriemma said. "That's what makes sports so exciting."
UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph, in her second season with the Huskies, on the team's unbeaten status since her arrival - Ralph was Final Four Most Outstanding Player when UConn won the national championship in 2000:
"I am pretty spoiled, but I don't think I've been the magic ingredient. It has been an incredible experience. These players are unbelievable. They are not only great players but they are really good kids. It has been really fun to watch them do what they have done and fun to be a part of it all."
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