Canzano: Nothing feels bigger than the Final Four smile of the Oregon Ducks



TAMPA, Fla. – The Stone Temple riders will play here over the weekend. In addition, a giant Easter egg hunt will be held for adults, something called "Kites and Eggs". And the Hilton airport has a scheduled bridal show, if it's your thing.

But in and around that, the four women's college basketball teams with the most talent in the country will take turns trying to kill each other's seasons.

Nothing that happens in this city feels bigger.

In addition, no one has less pressure on them than the Oregon ducks, that the creators of Las Vegas betting made a 12 to 1 shot to win everything. And I wonder how the role of the non-favorites could be an advantage, especially in today's national semifinal against Baylor, which is now a little less than a 1: 1 shot on the betting board.

The Ducks looked light and seemed aired, in their preparation to play in the first place of the NCAA Tournament. Oregon coach Kelly Graves, relaxed by nature, was asked at Thursday's press conference about comparisons between the Golden State Warriors and their Ducks.

He replied: "Steph Curry gave a scream to Sabrina yesterday, I thought that was really cool, you know what, yes, she looks a lot like Steph, the fact that he is a driver, she is always a threat to make a great play We do not break their film and we try to be like them, we have developed our own style, it has happened over the years for me, this team only gets it. "They know how to play pick-and-play basketball -roll, they know how to extend the floor, they love the three-point shot. "

Then, the Ducks coach who made his first appearance in the Final Four said: "It really helps to have a hammer in, like Ruthy, that we can go to if we need it." I do not know if DeMarcus (cousins) has reached that level. still.

"He's still looking at Ruthy, I think."

It was a stark contrast to what the rest of the support sounded.

The Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame – a 5 to 2 shot to win it all – used the same platform on Thursday to make a pbadionate plea for hiring more female coaches. A local columnist wrote that his performance was so powerful that it should have been transcribed "on parchment paper."

Geno Auriemma of UConn, a perennial winner who lost in the Final Four in the last two years, likened the experience to a championship golfer who never missed a five-foot putt. Then, having that thought stuck in his head as he lined up for another short.

He said: "I think as you get older, you start to realize, do you know how many things could go wrong?"

The Huskies are 4 to 1 to dance away from Tampa as a champion.

Kim Mulkey de Baylor, tense by nature, revealed: "Our motto this year is:"Together to Tampa. "… we can not be content with just getting here, we have to stay focused and we want to do it all the way."

This is what the Ducks face, and they are here with the youth guard Sabrina Ionescu, who is playing like that could be for her. Your last chance, maybe?

Oregon is a loser in this Final Four. Less pressure. More relaxed. A Pac-12 Conference team has not won the women's national title since Stanford in 1992. Baylor and Notre Dame have won it twice since then. And UConn has been crowned 11 times in that same period.

The Ducks may well be wearing a badge that says, "It's my first visit to the Magic Kingdom!"

If the shots of three UO points fall early, look. It could be exactly what the other three historical programs pursuing a national title fear the most. And if the shots do not fall, and the season collapses before the imposing Baylor track, what exactly has the Ducks lost in their first Final Four?

Nothing.

Mulkey was asked on the eve of the semifinal what would be his game plan for Oregon.

She said: "I will not tell you my plan, is that fair? I'll tell you that everything starts with Sabrina".

Most of the rest of his press conference was devoted to talk about his legacy, the 35-1 season of the program and also his favorite companions of UConn and Notre Dame.

I reread the transcript, wondering how Oregon would feel about it.

Baylor's only loss this season was against Stanford before Christmas.

The bears have been perfect since then. They have won their four NCAA tournament games by 57, 39, 25 and 32 points. City of blowout. The ESPN2 broadcast will probably tell you everything in front of tonight's advice.

But has Baylor seen anything like Oregon this season?

Is that what the broadcasters will say at the end?

Ionescu is on a mission. Teammate Satou Sabally, a 6-foot-4-foot forward with great feet, is a challenging showdown for Baylor. And the Ducks shot 50 percent from the three-point range by knocking out the Mississippi state number 1 in the regional final.

Mike Tyson was undefeated in the preparation to box Buster Douglas in 1990. The 2007 Patriots were unbeaten in preparation for the Giants wild in the Super Bowl. And Alabama had a record of 14-0, as it started as a five-point favorite in college football against Clemson in the national title game last season.

All lost.

Decide for yourself what role the weight of expectation played.

Baylor is carrying it. I'm not saying they will lose to Oregon. But the bears are loaded, is not it?

Undoubtedly, Oregon players are aware of Baylor's loss to Stanford this season. Mulkey dismissed the stain as a case of distraction from his team in the run up to the Christmas holidays. And yes, Oregon also had a disappointing loss for Stanford in the Pac-12 women's title game. But the Ducks beat the Cardinal by 40 on the Stanford home floor earlier this season.

Anything is possible, see?

It's a Final Four. And although I usually wonder if a team can smile and look so relaxed in front of an awesome battle with the main favorite of the tournament, I think the approach of the Ducks can be your best ally.

There are many things happening in this city this weekend. There is a Renaissance fair. And Italian Festa. In addition, the Saturday market in the city of Ybor.

But nothing feels bigger than the opportunity the Ducks have in front of them.

I love that they are smiling.


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