Kara Lawson handles ESPN analysis for women's Final Four
NEW YORK -- Kara Lawson learned that providing analysis for the women's NCAA basketball tournament won't make her more popular at her alma mater.
That's what happens when you pick North Carolina to win the tournament over defending champion Tennessee.
Lawson, a member of the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs and former Tennessee guard, made her choice on ESPN's Selection Monday show. She said she hasn't received too much flak.
"I just pick who I think is going to win," she said. "Of course, I want Tennessee to do well. I don't look at games as an analyst from a former Tennessee player's perspective. I look at them from my perspective and a matchup situation."
Turns out Lawson was wrong. North Carolina lost in the regional finals to LSU, which plays Tennessee in the Final Four on Sunday night.
Not caring about loyalties and not sweating controversial statements is part of the job description for the 27-year-old Lawson. She shares analysis duties with Stacey Dales and Trey Wingo, a trio covering the NCAA tournament for the third season.
Lawson is well aware of how Connecticut can dominate. She lost to UConn during her freshman and senior seasons in the NCAA championship.
"Tennessee and Connecticut have two players that are better difference-makers than anyone in the country in terms of Candace Parker and Maya Moore," she said. "That's what scares other teams."
Lawson said she's learned from watching Bob Knight, the newest addition to the ESPN staff for the men's tournament. She appreciates the way the winningest men's coach in Division I history speaks his mind and analyzes games.
"He's prepared a game plan against a lot of these teams," Lawson said. "My favorite part is when he's breaking down stuff, when he's teaching the game. Talking about breaking full-court pressure and just how to attack that."
This has been a curious career shift for Knight, a Hall of Fame coach who didn't hide his occasional loathing for some in the media. Knight is teamed with Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale.
"I think he's pretty comfortable because he has his two buddies there," Lawson said. "It makes things more comfortable when you know people."
Knight assessed his latest gig Wednesday while speaking at a Final Four panel with former President Bush at a forum in College Station, Texas.
"The greatest thing about my being with ESPN is that watching tennis prepared me for it. Between Digger and Dick Vitale, I spend a lot of time like this," said Knight, swiveling his head back and forth.
Early in her broadcasting career, Lawson received encouragement from Michael Wilbon and Robin Roberts.
"They were both really positive," Lawson said. "When you're a 22-year-old kid and people who have accomplished so much in an area that you're just starting out in give you feedback, that's huge."
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in College Station,Texas, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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