Women's Final 8: Stories from the first day

Five notes that have rattled around the brain since yesterday's opening day of the 2010 CIS Women's Basketball Championship:

Foul result for the home team: McMaster gave SFU a good run, but couldn't hang on. (Anytime you put up 27 on the Clan in a quarter, you're doing just fine.) But losing by 18 when the other team gets to the line 29 more times than you do has to hurt, and Mac coach Theresa Burns was beside herself after the game. It's never hard to play the what-if game, but this time it's a little easier.

But the other "home" side is still going: It's the first time the U of S has made it past the quarterfinals at the national tournament, and former Mac star Lindsay DeGroot is a win away from playing in the final. There was an incredible amount of noise generated by green-clad fans during Saskatchewan's quarterfinal; not surprising, since DeGroot's hometown is within driving distance and coach Lisa Thomaidis was once a fairly good Marauder player in her own right.

Scheduling oddities: With SFU-McMaster at 6 pm ET and Regina-Laval at 8 pm, two problems arose. One was that the loud section of Mac fans left after the first game, rather than (if the times were reversed) arriving early during the third quarterfinal and building up the atmosphere for the 1 vs. 8 main event. The second? SFU was playing at 3 pm, Burnaby time. Sure, someone's going to have an odd starting time (the Huskies were on the court at 1 pm CT), but perhaps the defending champions should be your main event, and not an undercard.

Big and tall vs. quick and small: Not quite; I just liked the rhyme. Windsor's bigs are going up against the energetic DeGroot as well as Jill Humbert and Kim Tulloch. Jessica Clemencon is close to unstoppable in the paint, and Ottawa was worn down easily yesterday. Saskatchewan will be more of a challenge, but Windsor may still have the D to stop them.

Rematch of a rematch: It's SFU-Regina again, in the later semifinal. Last year these teams played each other in the final , which Regina lost 68-62 in their home arena. A few weeks ago, SFU beat them again in the playoffs, this time by 30 (!) points, to win Canada West. So one would assume that the Cougars are a little on edge to start this one. But they'll have to be much, much better than they were last night against Laval: Regina shot 3 of 18 in the first; then, after regrouping and reflecting on that poor performance, shot just 6 of 17 in the second. Joanna Zalesiak went on a second-half run to get Regina back in it, then subsequently ahead. However, not only must the offence be better, but we also saw yesterday that nobody can trade baskets with SFU; you must, must stop them defensively. How to do it? That's another question, and we'll find out if Regina can do it this time.
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