Sunday, April 6, 2003

Auriemma, Taurasi pick up top honors



The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Geno Auriemma and Diana Taurasi earned AP coach and player of the year awards Saturday for leading Connecticut to a record winning streak and its fourth straight Final Four.

It's the fourth AP coaching award for Auriemma, who had only Taurasi back as a starter from last season's unbeaten national championship team.

But he blended in freshmen and role players from last season's club to fashion a 35-1 record. Connecticut plays Texas tonight in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Along the way, UConn set an NCAA women's record by winning 70 straight games, a streak ended by Villanova in the Big East Tournament.

"If you ask me, 'How'd you do that?' I would tell you, 'I don't know,' " Auriemma said. "If you ask (the players), 'How did you do that?' they'd say, 'I don't know.' We just kind of go out and play."

Auriemma received 20 of the 44 votes from the national media panel that chooses the weekly AP Top 25.

Auriemma, 499-99 in 18 seasons at UConn, also won the AP award in 1995, 1997 and 2000. No other coach has won it more than once.

Taurasi received 23 votes to become the fifth Connecticut player to win the AP player award.

A 6-foot junior from Chino, Calif., Taurasi had to lead UConn after playing alongside four seniors last season. She responded by leading the team in scoring (16.3), rebounding (6.2) and assists (4.6) during the regular season.

"Being around her means a lot," Connecticut freshman Barbara Turner said. "You want to get to know that kind of person. You want to model yourself after her and be like her."

Taurasi has a flair for the spectacular that few, if any, players can match - from no-look passes to long 3-pointers to spin moves in the lane.

"She understands how to play with a flair that brings a little excitement to the game," Auriemma said. "She's from California. They do that for a living out there. She's a product of her environment. She grew up idolizing Magic Johnson and I think she tries to play like that."

Women's Final Four

• Tennessee (32-4) vs. Duke (35-1), 7 p.m. today (ESPN)

• Connecticut (35-1) vs. Texas (29-5), 9 p.m. today (ESPN)

Championship game: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN)




REDS
Reds lose, Junior's hurt
Dunn angered by fan reaction to Griffey
Crosley was home of HRs before new park
Reds notebook: Team, Vaughn's agent talk
Reds Q&A

OTHER BASEBALL
Sosa put 500 behind, thinks bigger numbers
NL: Phils thump Pirates
AL: Royals are 5-0

BENGALS
Bengals Q&A

FINAL FOUR
Syracuse 95, Texas 84
Kansas 94, Marquette 61
Daugherty: Souped-up Jayhawks
Kansas vs. Syracuse for NCAA championship
Texas couldn't break the Syracuse zone
Williams gets another shot
Wade's world comes crashing down
Final Four notebook
Final Four week tarnished by coaching speculation
NCAA aggregate leaders

WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR
This is no ordinary trip for Lady Vols
Texas' goal: Stop Taurasi
Auriemma, Taurasi pick up top honors

XAVIER
West wins 4th player of year award

OTHER COLLEGE HOOPS
Loyola pioneered integrated basketball
Cronin gets top job at Murray State

PREP SPORTS
Groeschen: Prep insider
Prep results

SUNDAY SPOTLITE
Baseball movies, fair and foul
UC's cricket club gearing up for season
Enquirer Page Two power rankings

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
QB Krenzel sharpens focus

GOLF
Janzen dials 2-stroke BellSouth lead
Tiger Woods focused on unprecedented three-peat

HORSE RACING
Buddy Gil punches ticket to Kentucky
Elloluv impressive in Ashland win

AUTO RACING
Earnhardt Jr. wins Busch race
Little E chasing history at Talladega
Rubinho on pole for home F1 race

HOCKEY
Samsonov return bodes well for B's in playoffs
Ducks LW Severson recalled to Anaheim

NBA
Suns stop T-Wolves in playoff run
Adelman has no mercy for upstarts in playoffs

TENNIS
Spain vs. Argentina in semis

PLAN YOUR DAY
Sports this weekend on TV, radio