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USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez to his players: How do you want to be remembered as you prepare for WNIT championship game?

“It’s April and we’re still playing,” USF women’s coach Jose Fernandez says. “To have 26 wins is a great season, and our players are excited. I’m really happy for them.”

Associated Press

“It’s April and we’re still playing,” USF women’s coach Jose Fernandez says. “To have 26 wins is a great season, and our players are excited. I’m really happy for them.”

The USF women's basketball team will need a new motivational speech from its coach at halftime today, even though the old one has worked well.

For the past four games in the Women's NIT, coach Jose Fernandez has asked his four senior starters — guards Shantia Grace and Jazmine Sepulveda and post players Jessica Lawson and Brittany Denson — whether they want the next 20 minutes to be the last of their college careers.

Today, as the Bulls play in the WNIT championship game at Kansas, they know their seasons will end, so Fernandez has another question for his players: How do you want to be remembered?

"It's April and we're still playing," said Fernandez, whose team hasn't been home in more than a week, playing games at St. Bonaventure, Boston College and now Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse, which could have 10,000 fans on hand. "To have 26 wins is a great season, and our players are excited. I'm really happy for them."

The Bulls (26-10) continue to play their best basketball on the road — Boston College is the sixth top-50 team USF has beaten this season, and all six have come away from Tampa.

Fernandez said the common thread in the team's four WNIT victories has been a strong surge from a motivated team after halftime.

"We've had second-half surges in every game," said Fernandez, whose team trailed by six early in the second half Wednesday in Boston.

While seniors have led the way in USF's postseason run, the top scorer Wednesday was junior guard Janae Stokes, who had not practiced with the team in the past week.

Stokes' mother, Lynn, was hospitalized in Atlanta with an unexpected but undisclosed condition. She spent time in intensive care but is "doing much better," Fernandez said. Stokes flew to join her teammates just before the past two games and came through with five 3-pointers against BC on the way to scoring 22 points.

.Today

WNIT championship: USF at Kansas

When/where: 2; Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.

TV/radio: CBS College Sports; 1010-AM

Records: USF 26-10, Kansas 22-13

Notable: It's the final game for four USF senior starters — G Shantia Grace already has been with the Bulls for 82 career wins, five more than any player in the program's history. … Kansas, which has home wins against two Sweet 16 teams in Baylor and Iowa State, has the Big 12's No. 2 scorer in 5-11 G Danielle McCray, a 43 percent 3-point shooter, and a solid rebounder in 6-5 C Krysten Boogaard. … The Jayhawks were worst in the Big 12 in turnover margin, a statistic that has been one of USF's strengths this season. … USF is hosting a watch party at Beef O'Brady's at the Marshall Center on the Tampa campus.

USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez to his players: How do you want to be remembered as you prepare for WNIT championship game? 04/03/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 3, 2009 9:35pm]

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