Women's Final Four coaches talk teams' strengths, biggest concerns
DENVER -- There are banners on street corners throughout this city that read THE PINNACLE AWAITS DENVER -- the slogan hanging above the iconic Rocky Mountains -- and for once the marketing matches reality. This year's women's Final Four is the strongest in a quarter-century. All four No. 1 seeds advanced out of the regional rounds for the first time since 1989. It also marks the first Final Four featuring four programs with a national title on their resume.
"If you look at four teams, you see maybe a little bit of similarity in the fact that all four teams are committed defensively to playing five-on-five and making it very difficult for teams to get the kind of shots they normally get," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "I remember playing all three teams this season, and we certainly remember how hard it was to score in every one of those games. I think the other thing you see is that each team has people that are OK with the spotlight. They're OK with the big moment. They've had enough failure and enough frustration to kind of harden them and toughen them. I think all the teams have a little bit of a hunger. There is no defending national champion that's in the field."
Sunday's matchups feature UConn-Notre Dame (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Baylor-Stanford (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). SI.com asked each of the Final Four coaches what they did better than everyone else in the country and what concerned them the most about their semifinal opponent.
"We really, really think that we're pretty good on the defensive end of the floor. If you'll look through the history of the 12 years I've been here, that's a stat that jumps out at you about our teams because we're going to guard you. We may not always have the most talented teams but we're going to have teams that are consistent on the defensive end of the floor.