Photo Story: NCAA women at Nashville

For the first time since 2002, the NCAA women's tournament has returned to Memorial Gym for the first and second rounds. This year it's bigger than better than ever, with eight teams in town, includimg two #1-seeds. On Friday all the teams held open practices and news conferences. Whitney D shares these photos from the day.

Meeting the NCAA requirements in a historical gym like Memorial required some creative thinking. For example, the Admiral's Room, usually used for dance classes and National Commodore Club events, like the February luncheon in the above photo . . .

. . . has been converted into the Media Interview Room for the weekend.


And the Rebounders' Club has become the Photographers Work Room, perhaps the first ever with leather couches!

After missing the tournament last year, the Washington Huskies were obviously excited about being here this year.

Player of the Year candidate Siemone Augustus was one of several LSU Lady Tigers who talked to the media.

Before LSU's open practice, Coach Pokey Chatman posed for a photo.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers posed for a photo after practice. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Amanda Bulin of Florida Atlantic talked about how the team was displaced by Hurricane Wilma and had to pack up everything, including their pets, and stay together in Daytona Beach and how that experience helped the team make their run throught the Atlantic Sun tourney.

When asked about UNC's running game at their press conference, Camille Little got a laugh from the crowd when she said, "It's fun being IN condition, but it's not fun GETTING in condition!"

When asked what UC-Riverside needs to do to beat North Carolina, Coach John Margaritis replied, "One more point!"

The Vanderbilt players said that during spring break, after two days of good practices, they got a chance to actually have a full day off, with no classes and no basketball, to relax and enjoy spring break and being with each other.

Coach Balcomb talked about the excitement mingled with a little confusion in having the tournament right here in the team's own gym. "Most of the rooms that we use have been taken over to be used for other things," she said. "Even our locker room is somebody else's and has an LSU banner on it right now. Talk about odd!"

Former Vanderbilt stars Chantelle Anderson and Ashley Earley are in town for the tournament. Lori Alexander, who is now Director of Sports Operations for women's basketball, is the tournament manager. When Chantelle and Ashley played here, Lori was their strength and conditioning coach.

When the Dores huddled before practice, they invited Chantelle and Ashley to join the huddle while photographer Neal Brake snapped photos.

Meanwhile, back up in the interview, Louisville superstar Jazz Covington said that she liked the arrangement of the benches in Memorial Gym. She says that sitting directly across from the opponents and looking straight at them gets the competitive juices flowing.

Louisville Coach Tom Collen was the last person on the podium. He said that the question he's heard most often since the brackets were announced is, "What do you think about playing on your opponent's home court?" The issue of his one-day tenure as women's basketball coach at Vanderbilt didn't come up.

Photos copyright 2006 by Whitney for Top Stories