Still a star, but Augustus comes up short
INDIANAPOLIS -- Her demeanor never changed. The sleepy-eyed stare, the swaying arms, the easy lope up and down the court. The best player in the nation never became angry, or demonstrative, or even antsy. Then time ran out, and Seimone Augustus realized maybe she should have.
That beautiful Seimone softness betrayed her Sunday night. Her cool style, her silent shot, her effortless gallop -- it all teased where it once soothed. She did not drive much, or create much, or bang much. She got her looks and, by her own admission, settled for them. And her team settled for half-court offense, even when the Lady Tigers had Baylor winded. The Lady Bears settled into a suffocating zone, and Augustus never forced them out of it.
She played well. She scored 22 points -- more than a third of her team's total. Can't blame her, not when she brought her school to such a special place two years in a row.
But Final Four legend belongs to those who own the limelight, or at least own the paint. It belongs to those who bulldoze to the rim. Augustus had only two offensive rebounds in Sunday's 68-57 loss to Baylor. She went to the line only three times in 40 minutes. Baylor nearly negated her performance with 18 made free throws alone.
The crowd waited and waited for Augustus to make them gasp. They saw glimpses -- a steal, a stealthy crossover dribble, a turnaround teardrop. But the flashes never turned to flame. Seimone disappeared as quickly as she emerged. She missed all four of her 3-point attempts. Baylor came all the way back and then went ahead. Five minutes left became two minutes. Now, Seimone? How about now? Then two minutes became too late. And the game ended. Augustus walked off the court with no expression.
Others got mad. Point guard Temeka Johnson fumed all night, thumping the ball into the hardwood as if trying to crack the court. Center Sylvia Fowles glowered as she looked for a shot to swat. Pokey Chatman could be heard over the raucous RCA Dome crowd, screaming "What is this?!" as Baylor chopped away a 24-9 lead. No one answered.
"We kind of stepped back," forward Tillie Willis said, "and just watched."
LSU fans can only wonder what would have happened if Augustus had yelled.
"I wasn't frustrated," she said after LSU's second straight national semifinal loss. "There was time still on the clock. You only get frustrated when the clock hits zero."
And maybe, for one night, that was the problem.
Eric Adelson writes for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.