At 6 feet 7, with great hands and a soft touch, Kara Wolters is the focal point for the top-ranked Huskies, who play Illinois in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Saturday. But coach Geno Auriemma doesn't want her to be the only point.
"We could just pass the ball into Kara because we know that every time we do that, she scores," Auriemma said. "So it would be easy for our kids to come down and say, "I don't feel like cutting, I don't feel like screening, I'm tired, so why don't I just throw it to Kara and get it over with?'
"But I don't think we can live with that in this tournament and be successful."
Wolters, a two-time All-American, leads Connecticut (32-0) with a 17.1 scoring average and is shooting 62 percent.
How does a team go from 13-14 one season to a No.
1 seed in the tournament the next? For North Carolina, it mainly was a case of young players maturing. Having Marion Jones back after a year away certainly hasn't hurt.
With Jones serving as the catalyst, North Carolina won the ACC regular-season and tournament championships and pits it 29-2 record against George Washington (27-5) in the semifinals Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
"Basically, every game we started three freshmen, and they needed time to grow up and mature," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said of last season. "With Marion back with her tremendous experience and leadership ability, we've been able to put that together with our other players."
Jones, a starter as a freshman on North Carolina's 1994 national championship team, skipped basketball last season to concentrate on track. This year the third-team All-American averaged 18.9 points and shot 54 percent.
One of the semifinals in Missoula, Mont., matches Georgia and Vanderbilt of the SEC, which still has six teams in the tournament.
"It's inevitable for SEC teams to be playing each other," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "Last year Alabama and Auburn played out West. This year it's Georgia and Vanderbilt. That's what you have when you have the toughest conference in the land."
_ TIMES WIRES