Monday, March 11, 2002
UC women hope to make 'some noise'
Bearcats not satisfied just to make NCAA Tournament
By Gary Estwick firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Enquirer
As the lone player remaining from the University of Cincinnati's last NCAA Tournament berth, senior Laura Wilder said the Bearcats won't be as nonchalant as they were three years ago.
UC women's team cheers as they watch the picks on tv at the Shoemaker Center Sunday.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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I think the team from before was satisfied to be in, Wilder said. It was like, if we won, we won. If not, then we didn't.
Wilder, who was a freshman on the team. She remembered the feeling and plans to not let it happen again.
Glaring at a projection screen in a Shoemaker Center suite, she watched the Bearcats draw a No. 6 seed in the East Region, setting up a first round game against No. 11 St. Peter's Saturday at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.
Minutes afterward, she talked about the task ahead, as UC, ranked No. 21 in the nation, tries to win its first-ever NCAA Tournament game. The Bearcats are 0-2 all-time.
I think anything short of making some noise in the NCAA is going to be a disappointment, Wilder said. It's not like we're just overjoyed to be in the tournament.
St. Peters (25-5) earned its seventh NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament championship.
UC has never played St. Peter's.
The winner will play the winner of No. 3 South Carolina and No. 14 Liberty Monday in South Carolina.
Wilder and about 50 people had to wait approximately 40 minutes and through three commercial breaks before ESPN announced UC's region during a live broadcast.
Wilder, who is averaging 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, knew her team would be in the tournament; the Bearcats (26-4), who haven't lost since Jan. 20, earned an automatic bid by winning the Conference USA Tournament last week. The question she desperately wanted to know Sunday was UC's seed and who and where the Bearcats would play.
That's stressful, Wilder said. Not as stressful as sitting here, wondering if you're in. But it's just as stressful not knowing where you're going to go.
Wilder would know. She was a freshman when UC played Oregon in the NCAA Tournament in 1999. Wilder scored two points in seven minutes of play, and the Bearcats lost 65-56.
I think myself and the people that have been here since then have grown up a lot, she said.
UC's only other NCAA berth came in 1989. The Bearcats, seeded No. 8, lost to No. 9 Bowling Green 69-59.
Cincinnati is on the map now, and people have to be afraid of us, Wilder said. That's a credit to the people before us.
Although Wilder is the only UC player with NCAA Tournament experience, the Bearcats have played in the WNIT every year since 1999 and qualified for a postseason tournament five consecutive years.
Coach Laurie Pirtle said a lack of NCAA Tournament experience shouldn't be a factor.
We've got a bunch of winners on our team, Pirtle said. They've won before on other levels of basketball. They wanted to come here and win too.
Winning is all Wilder is looking forward to. St. Peters is on her mind, and so is a run to the Final Four in San Antonio.
Once you win one, why should we stop there? she said. We shouldn't let one win be our absolute final goal.
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