Tickets for the women’s basketball team’s NCAA tournament games this weekend are available for St. Thomas students to purchase at the third floor front desk in the athletic office suite of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.
The weekend’s schedule was finalized in a conference call held Monday morning between all teams participating in the Final Four, the NCAA and administration from St.Thomas and Hope College.
Vice President for University and Government Relations Doug Hennes was involved in the conference call. Hennes said that the call’s purpose was to make sure everybody understands what’s going on.
“It was routine but necessary,” Hennes said. “You don’t go to the Final Four every day.”
The Tommies start their weekend with an afternoon practice Wednesday and will fly out from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 8 p.m., for Grand Rapids, Mich. The team will then drive to its hotel in Holland, Mich.
“Thursday is a big day of festivities,” coach Ruth Sinn said.
Senior Ali Johnson and sophomore Taylor Young embrace as the Tommies beat the Tufts Knights 83-72 in overtime. (Cynthia Johnson/TommieMedia)
Thursday will include practice, a team picture, a press conference with Sinn and two players, a community service event and a banquet.
“We’re going to an elementary school, and we’re doing a reading connection program,” Sinn said. “We’ll be talking about the importance of education, and we’ll be having student-athletes model for them the importance of getting an education.”
Last year, the men’s basketball team participated in a similar service project before its NCAA semifinal game.
“They read with kids, worked with kids, and some (players) brought them outside and taught them some dribbling,” Hennes said.
Thursday evening the NCAA will host a banquet for all Final Four teams.
“At the banquet they will introduce our team, congratulate us on making it to the Final Four, and our four senior team members will get up and talk a little bit about our team, the journey and the experience,” Sinn said.
Friday the team will practice at 11:10 p.m. before its 6 p.m. game. The Tommies’ opponent, Illinois Wesleyan University, comes into the game with a 26-5 record. The Titans won their fifth consecutive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) title with an 68-67 victory over Carthage College (Wis.)
The Titans are led by senior Olivia Lett, who averages team-highs in points (21.7), rebounds (6.6) and assists (3.4). Lett was named the CCIW’s “Most Outstanding Player,” and she also led the conference in scoring. Junior Melissa Gardner, who also earned all-league honors, contributed 13.3 points per game.
Illinois Wesleyan will be returning to the Final Four for the second consecutive season, finishing fourth last year.
Caroline Rode can be reached at email@example.com.
Ryan Shaver contributed to this report.