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Shaq puts attack in Gophers

By Dave Campbell

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Janel McCarville has become one of the best post players in country, and without her huge contributions in the NCAA tournament Minnesota probably wouldn't be headed to the Final Four.

"The way she's playing right now," teammate Shannon Schonrock said, "nobody can stop her."

Without the attitude adjustment McCarville made at the beginning of last season, the Gophers might not be in this position, either.

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"It took her a few months," coach Pam Borton said, "but she finally bought in to what we were trying to do with her."

Minnesota (25-8), which plays two-time defending champion Connecticut in the national semifinals Sunday night in New Orleans, was given a No. 7 seed after a late-season fade caused mostly by the absence of star guard Lindsay Whalen.

The Gophers beat the top three seeds in the Mideast Region -- Duke, Kansas State and Boston College -- because Whalen is back in form after a broken hand. Just as critical has been McCarville's performance.

In four tournament games, the 6-foot-2 junior is averaging 19.8 points, 17 rebounds and 4.8 assists. In the regional semifinal victory over Boston College, McCarville tossed in seven blocks and four steals.

McCarville, from Stevens Point, Wis., was the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year in 2001-02 under Brenda Oldfield (now coaching at Maryland under her maiden name Frese).

McCarville, who was affected last season by a hip pointer, would often call home to complain. It was her mother, Bonnie, who helped set her straight.

"She brought me back down," McCarville recalled. "Moms know best."

Bonnie McCarville was diagnosed with colon cancer in August, and the bond with her daughter has since grown. Janel has a small tattoo of her mother's initials -- "BDM" -- on the inside of her left forearm.

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The whole family is headed to New Orleans this weekend.

McCarville's teammates call her "Shaq," and on Thursday someone asked if her recent rebounding prowess should suggest a nickname more along the lines of a different NBA great -- like Charles Barkley.

"I'm making a name for myself, pretty much," she said with a smile. "I want to rebound like JANEL."

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