The Norman Transcript

April 6, 2014

Stanford in the way of UConn history

Associated Press
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — All the talk of Stanford feeling like a junior varsity team crashing the Final Four or being an extra at the beauty pageant is just rhetoric to UConn coach Geno Auriemma. Motivational chatter he says no team here needs since each has won a championship.

Auriemma noted Saturday he’s never won any pageant.

Nope, he and his Connecticut Huskies just win titles — and they’re back chasing perfection again. They are two wins from making history: The first program in the women’s game with nine national titles.

“I think this team thinks they can win anywhere, anytime against anybody,” Auriemma said.

Before UConn (38-0) can think of a possible undefeated showdown with Notre Dame in the title game, however, the Huskies must get past Stanford tonight in one national semifinal.

Stanford is back at the Final Four for the sixth time in seven years. Stanford has two titles to its credit, though the Cardinal have been shut out in eight previous Final Four berths over the past 20 years. Compare that to UConn, which has won all its titles on 13 trips in that same span.

Auriemma said every team here can win a national title, which is the beauty of the Final Four.

“All you got to do is play really well two nights, and you can win a national championship,” Auriemma said. “And all four teams that are here are capable of doing that because they’ve already done that. So I don’t think they should feel like they’re a JV team. I don’t think they should anybody should feel like they’re the extras at the Miss America pageant.”

Terps play ‘no respect’ card: Brenda Frese and her Maryland Terrapins feel like uninvited guests at the Final Four.

And that’s fine with the Terrapins coach.

Back in the national semifinals for the first time since winning the championship in 2006, Maryland will try to spoil an unprecedented title game when the Terrapins face undefeated Notre Dame tonight. Stanford plays unbeaten UConn in the other semifinal.

“Maryland and Stanford are the extras at the Miss USA pageant,” Frese quipped. “Our job is to be able to crash the party.”

While fourth-seeded Maryland (28-6) surprised many by reaching the Final Four, Notre Dame has been on a roll all season. The Irish are two wins away from the first undefeated season in school history and a second national championship. Coach Muffet McGraw said her team tries to focus on the next game and not making history, which has helped them remain perfect this season.

“It’s been easy,” McGraw said of keeping her team focused. “The easiest thing that we’ve had to do this year. Take it one game at a time. the seniors have done a great job, making sure nobody is looking ahead.”

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