March 31, 2001
By R.B. FALLSTROM
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Purdue players know how to handle the ball ... and the fork, knife and spoon, too.
Purdue coach Kristy Curry's unusual regimen for her team, which will try to win its second NCAA championship in three years Sunday night against Notre Dame, includes etiquette training.
So, what did All-American Katie Douglas learn?
"The salt and pepper shakers are married, and you never pass the salt without the pepper," Douglas said. "You have to know they're married."
Among other things, players also learned the best way to speak to a waiter, plus proper business introductions.
"We had a lot of new faces, so we thought it would be a good thing," said Curry, who has five freshmen on the team.
Players also met with an expert on rhythm.
"Basically, our message was that we may all have a different beat, we all have different strengths," Curry said, "but if you put all those strengths together, we can make a beautiful noise."
Said Douglas: "The rhythm man has been instrumental for us."
The Boilermakers travel everywhere with a pair of drums that players beat before games.
They were banging the drums in the team hotel before the semifinals - until guests complained.
"I think they thought I was crazy again, I think they thought I lost my mind. Again," Curry said.
"But it's really been neat because the kids have had fun with it. Life's too short not to have fun."
WHERE'S THE PURPLE?: Notre Dame senior Kelley Siemon never missed a game in her college career until this season.
There's a toughness to Siemon's game and it's easy to see why: Her father, Jeff, spent 11 years as a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, playing in the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl three times each.
Not that you'd know it walking into their Edina, Minn., home. All those mementos from Jeff Siemon's career are out of sight.
"There is nothing," Kelley Siemon said. "Everything is down in the basement in boxes."
Dad's influence runs strong, however. Kelley wears No. 50, the number he wore with the Vikings.
"I wanted to be like my dad," she said. "I looked up to him so much and that was something I wanted to wear in honor of him."
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: The women's Final Four is the latest in a long line of NCAA events held in St. Louis the last few years.
And it won't be the last.
The city also will be the site of NCAA men's first-round games next year, the Midwest Regional final in 2004 and the men's Final Four in 2005.
The city also had the Midwest Regional finals in 1998 and '99, as well as last year's NCAA wrestling tournament.
Now, St. Louis is among nine cities in the running for the women's Final Four in 2006 or '07.
"We'll pursue any opportunity to host an NCAA basketball tournament in this city," said Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin, whose conference administers the tourneys. "We'd like to do this every year if we could."
Another women's Final Four so soon might be a long shot, unless the NCAA decides it prefers domed stadiums to arenas. The domed stadium competition is thin.
St. Louis' bid for the women's Final Four would work for either the Savvis Center, which seats 21,000, or the Trans World Dome, which could accommodate up to 65,000.
"I think 2006 or '07 would be quite soon to have this event back," said Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission. "We'd be delighted to have it back soon, and we wanted the NCAA to know how interested we were."
HAPPY HOMECOMING: Notre Dame point guard Niele Ivey, the only local player in the Final Four, said coming home hasn't been overwhelming - thanks to a bit of forethought.
"I have a code name on the phone, so they can't get through," Ivey said.
"It hasn't been too hectic."