Early arriving Tennessee fans knew something was up Sunday when they saw Kristen "Ace" Clement sitting on the bench during warmups, wearing earrings, her wristwatch and bracelet.
"In 26 years of coaching, I never saw one like this," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said of the way Clement injured her ankle at a morning workout at First Union Center, sidelining her for the NCAA women's basketball final.
"We were doing walk-throughs of our offensive sets, with no defense. Five players at each end. Ace went up for a layup and came down on Michelle Snow's foot."
Clement's primary function was to have served as a three-point threat and the designated defender of Connecticut's brilliant shotmaker, Sue Bird.
Bird only scored four points, but with Clement out of the game, Connecticut seemed to direct all its defensive fury on Semeka Randall. Half of Connecticut center Kelly Schumacher's blocks seemed to be swats of Randall's futile drives, and Randall wound up with one-for-11 shooting, six turnovers and six points.
Before the championship game, Randall talked about how Summitt can't seem to ease up her intensity level, not even during recruiting.
Three years ago, when Randall was a Cleveland high school All-American, she said she couldn't decide between attending Tennessee and Connecticut.
"She [Summitt] was yelling at me, even when she was recruiting me," she said.
"She was yelling when she said: 'How can you still be considering UConn? Don't you understand how bad I want to coach you?' "