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March 10, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Pac-10 tournament: “A Basketball Hoedown”

Appel.jpgThe Pac-10 coaches just finished their teleconference call with the media, leaving a few question marks. Not that many have the answer to how you stop top-seeded Stanford from winning its sixth tournament title. The Cardinal are led by junior post Jayne Appel (pictured right by the Associated Press), who averages 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds.
But one, will Washington State be able to make it out of the snow that dropped on Pullman overnight to arrive in sunny Los Angeles on Wednesday? And two, what does Arizona State have planned to fill the void left by junior guard Dymond Simon?
“You’re just going to have to wait and see,” Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said of how the different the Sun Devils will look without Simon, who tore her left ACL on Saturday. “I know what we’re doing. We’re going to be fine. [But] I’m not telling.
“The hardest thing is that we feel so bad for Dymond. But, again, we have six seniors and they have a great sense of urgency. They do not want their season to end quickly here.”
As for WSU, coach June Daugherty is hoping the snow melts quick, but another storm is projected overnight. Her coaches have made it to Seattle, where it’s brisk, but clear. The No. 8 seed in the tournament, they’ll face No. 9 seed Arizona on Thursday. The Cougs have defeated the Wildcats twice this season, but Arizona is playing better as of late (losing to Stanford and California by a combined six points last weekend), making this an interesting first-round matchup.
“We’re getting ready for a different team than we played a few weeks ago,” said Daugherty, whose team swept Arizona by an average of 8.5 points. “We were very fortunate to win the first two games, they went right down to the last few plays. We had our banquet Saturday and that’s all the [players] talked about, how close the Arizona-California game was at that point. They definitely have our attention.”
The tournament is moving to the new Galen Center in LA, making it home-court advantage for Southern California. But coach Mark Trakh said he didn’t feel there would be that much of an edge for his team — unless the Trojans could draw crowds like Washington.
He plans to treat the tourney as an away event, staying in a hotel with his team, eating as a group, and traveling bus to practice and functions. The No. 6 Trojans play No. 3 ASU on Friday.
“It’s part of the excitement of the tournament,” Trakh said. “We’re going to have them do everything that we’d do if we were on the road.”
In the tournament’s eight years, this is just the second time it has been hosted by one of the Pac-10 schools. The inaugural tournament was in Eugene, Ore. in 2002. The site still holds the record for total attendance at 27,415. Last season at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., there were a total of 19,004 fans for the women’s competition.
Oregon coach Bev Smith likes the return to campus and has fond memories of when the Ducks hosted, although Oregon lost to ASU 64-58 in the semifinals that year.
“Our community was just ecstatic to have it,” Smith said. “It was a week of emersion into basketball, which is great. If the community around The Galen Center can be involved, it’s pretty fantastic to see teams coming and going and people being around. With the men being there, it’s a great opportunity to have a basketball hoedown. From our perspective, it was a great event that people still talk about today.”
The No. 8 seed Ducks will face the No. 10 seed Washington on Thursday, having defeated the Huskies twice this season. Coach Tia Jackson said her team is healthy and transfer Regina Rogers, who is ineligible to play, is rejoining practice today after a month suffering from various flu-like symptoms.

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