Her team reached the national championship game last season but lost to Tennessee, and this season, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer fell just short of another Final Four, losing to Connecticut in Tuesday's region final in Greensboro, N.C. ¶ But she is the only coach to have played all the Final Four teams, having earned wins against Connecticut and LSU and taken last-second losses against Stanford and Tennessee. Stringer took a moment Friday to offer her insights on this weekend's games and the key matchups to Times staff writer Greg Auman:
"I don't know about LSU-Tennessee, but it's going to be a great game. For LSU, Sylvia Fowles is all that, though there's some softness in their frontcourt that leaves a little to be desired on their front line. Both teams have weaknesses at power forward. If (Tennessee's) Candace Parker is at power forward, she's got it, hands down.
"Connecticut has the best backcourt — their 1, 2 and 3s are extremely quick guards who can shoot and get to the rim. You don't see any weaknesses in any of their frontcourt or backcourt players. Their team is, top to bottom, able not only to score but to play great defense.
"For Stanford, their two inside players, Jayne Appel and Kayla Pedersen, are strong and quick with great hands. Sometimes they're overshadowed by the outstanding play of Candice Wiggins. Candice continues to surprise me. Her numbers in the tournament have been incredible. Stanford is well-balanced but not as athletic, so the heads-up goes to Connecticut there.
"The powers that be would like it to be Tennessee and Connecticut, and it makes for good TV. (Tennessee's) Shannon Bobbitt is extremely quick, but you see the same quickness a little bit taller in UConn's Renee Montgomery and Ketia Swanier.
"I'd like to see Alexis Hornbuckle against Montgomery and think that would be an interesting matchup because they went to the same high school (South Charleston) in West Virginia. You could have Parker vs. Maya Moore at the three. The way Maya creates shots and can score, whoa, she's incredible. At power forward, (UConn's) Charde Houston isn't a slouch, but Parker is just great.
"At center, (UConn's) Tina Charles' footwork is exceptional. She's a shot blocker and a rebounder, with great moves as she operates in tight quarters. (Tennessee's) Nicky Anosike is nowhere near as smooth and developed in her offensive skill set."
"I think it's Connecticut, not that Pat Summitt won't do a great job. You have four outstanding coaches in this Final Four and four great teams. At the end of the day, it's the team that's the most committed to defense and has the ability to put people in position to score."