For One Falsely Accused Teacher, ‘Sorry’ Isn’t Enough


* How they got there: Beat Hampton, 116-45, in first round of East Regional at Storrs, Conn.; Clemson, 83-45, in second round; Oklahoma, 102-80, in regional semifinal at Richmond, Va., and Louisiana State, 86-71, in regional final. Beat Penn State, 89-67, in national semifinal Friday at Philadelphia.

* Leading tournament scorers: Svetlana Abrosimova, 14.8 points a game; Sue Bird, 14.6; Shea Ralph, 13.8; Asjha Jones, 11.8; Tamika Williams, 10.0.

* Leading tournament rebounders: Abrosimova, 6.2; Ralph and Williams, 4.4; Jones, 4.2.

* Key to the season: The emergence of sophomore point guard Bird. Coach Geno Auriemma credits Bird, more than any other player, for bringing Connecticut to the championship game. Whether passing to Abrosimova or Ralph, or making three-point shots (51% in the tournament), she’s a threat to Tennessee anywhere on the court. Abrosimova and Bird give Connecticut a one-two punch in the transition game. Stopping them in transition is the key to beating the Huskies. Although she wasn’t particularly effective Friday against Penn State, Ralph has a knack for getting behind defenses on breakaways. Kelly Schumacher, a 6-5 junior from Canada, is probably the team’s most improved player and was a major contributor in Friday’s victory.

* Key fact: Depth. Said Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer: “They just have so many players, it seems like they’re coming after you in waves.” Ten of Auriemma’s players average 10.8 minutes a game or more.