Stanford’s Appel ends great career scoreless, hurt

Jayne Appel limped to Stanford’s bench, her already aching right
ankle hurting even more. She wasn’t about to let her great career
end like this.

Appel got a shot to help with the pain, but it wasn’t enough to
fix the rest of her game.

She was 0 for 12, the first scoreless game her coach could ever
remember, and ended a terrific career by losing in the national
championship game for the second time in three years, as the
Cardinal fell to Connecticut 53-47 Tuesday night.

“My dad told me that there have been only nine schools in my
four years that have even made it to the Final Four, so I feel
blessed,” she said. “These girls are my family. We gave it our
all.”

Appel grabbed seven rebounds to finish as the Pac-10 career
leader with 1,265.

“She really battled,” coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She was in
a lot of pain. She kept going at it, but the ball was not dropping
for her.”

WHITE HOUSE, HERE WE COME: UConn star Tina Charles was finished
being interviewed during the trophy presentation ceremony when she
asked to say one more thing.

She had a message for President Obama: “We’re baaaaaack!”

When UConn visited the White House last year, Obama shot some
baskets with them.

Having another excuse to get out on the court isn’t the only
reason he might be looking forward to seeing them again.

After all, he correctly picked in his bracket that they would
beat Stanford in the finals.

GOING OUT ON TOP: Tuesday’s title game marked the end of a
winning era for Connecticut senior Tina Charles and junior Lorin
Dixon.

And not just because they’re UConn Huskies.

The two have been friends since they were 13 and growing up in
New York City, becoming high school teammates who led Christ the
King to back-to-back No. 1 rankings in USA Today.

Dixon said she probably wouldn’t have landed at UConn if not for
Charles.

“It’s more of a depressing thought when I think about it,”
Dixon said of Charles graduating. “I’ll never let her know that. I
tell her I don’t care if she leaves, but it’s more like, ‘No,
don’t.”’

When they were younger, Dixon said she never imagined she and
Charles would play together for so long. But not because they liked
different colleges.

“Growing up, Tina really wasn’t that good,” Dixon said. “I
don’t even think she thought she would be here.”

VP OF BASKETBALL: Security around the Alamodome was heightened
Tuesday because of Vice President Joe Biden, who was expected to
attend the championship with his wife, Jill.

It’s not the game’s only political connection. When the Bidens
stand for the national anthem, it’ll be sung by Ayala Brown, a
senior guard at Boston College and daughter of Republican Sen.
Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Sen. Brown dealt a blow to the agenda of Biden and the Obama
administration with his surprise special-election victory to fill
the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brown later challenged
Biden’s boss to a pickup game: Scott and Ayala versus President
Barack Obama and the teammate of his choice.

UConn’s Maya Moore, the Wade Trophy winner, has said she’d be
happy to serve as the president’s ringer.

“It is my patriotic duty to help him,” Moore said last
month.

CARDINAL FAN: No question who former U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice was rooting for in the title game.

The former Stanford professor and provost wore a Cardinal-red
blouse while speaking to a packed ballroom Tuesday to wrap up the
Women’s College Basketball Association convention, which coincides
with the Final Four.

Rice bid the crowd goodbye with a loud “Go Cardinal!” But she
was more talkative about another sport: college football and its
lack of a playoff system.

Rice has said her dream job would be NFL commissioner. But she
said she’d be happy to roll up her sleeves to make changes in the
college game.

“You never would’ve had Butler and Duke in college football,”
said Rice, referring to the unlikely Bulldogs making the men’s
basketball championship.

Rice said she has some ideas.

“I even got a system designed,” Rice said. “But we can talk
about that some other time.”

ANOTHER REMATCH: Get used to Stanford playing Connecticut,
because it’s a rivalry that’s not going away anytime soon.

The teams will meet again next season at Stanford, and Cardinal
coach Tara VanDerveer said plans are already being made to extend
the series.

Tuesday’s meeting was the third between the powerhouses in the
past year.

“I think it’s really good for us. I don’t know if it’s good for
women’s basketball,” VanDerveer said. “But I think you have the
East Coast/West Coast, and Geno does just a great job with their
team and program.”

DRIBBLING AROUND: UConn has now trailed for 115 minutes during
its 78-game streak, and a total of 9:17 during the second halves of
those games. … Huskies coach Geno Auriemma improved to 77-15 in
NCAA tournament games. That ties Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski
(77-22) for the most wins and keeps him in first place for best
winning percentage (.837, opposed to .778). … Auriemma also is
7-0 in title games. That includes four of the six unbeaten seasons
by any women’s basketball team. Texas and Tennessee have the
others. … The last time Stanford scored fewer than 50 points? The
last time it was in a championship game, against Tennessee in 2008.
… The all-tournament team was UConn’s Maya Moore and Tina
Charles, Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Kayla Pedersen and
Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson.