Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Louisville plays up underdog role

NEW ORLEANS — Louisville has relished being the underdog, so much so that coach Jeff Walz doesn't want to hear about how it has that team-of-destiny air entering the Final Four.

Yet, is there any other way to see it? Louisville beat Brittney Griner and defending national champ Baylor, then Tennessee, the most storied program in the sport. Surely it can't be the underdog against Final Four newcomer California in tonight's semifinals.

"No one expects us to win now," Walz said. "I know we won two games, but we're seeded fifth. And if they expected us to win, we'd be seeded second or third. (Cal) is a team that's 32-3, that beat Stanford. They're a great basketball team, so we're going to have to figure out a way."

And though destiny might be on Louisville's side, history is not. No team seeded lower than fourth has won a semifinal.

The Bears were the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Region and did not face their Pac-12 rival, top-seeded Stanford. Georgia took care of the Cardinal in the region semifinal.

Neither Cal nor Louisville was widely expected to make it this far, although President Barack Obama saw something in the Bears when he placed them in his Final Four bracket. Now Louisville or Cal will have a spot in the final.

"I definitely agree that a lot has to go right in order to get to this point," Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "But I also think there's a huge impact that our players have in making things go right. The teams that were in front of us at each stage were really formidable."

In the other semifinal, UConn faces a Notre Dame team to which it has lost in seven of their past eight matchups, including last season's semifinals.

"We're in a familiar place, fortunately," said Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, a seven-time national champion whose team once beat the Irish 12 consecutive times. "And we have a familiar opponent, unfortunately. I do believe there's a mental part to it, to a certain extent.

"When we beat them 12 in a row, I'm sure that wasn't all physical. When you beat a team a number of times, you feel a certain confidence. And when you've been on the other end of that, there is more cause for concern."

Notre Dame has won all three previous matchups this season. But the wins were by one, two and nine points, the nine-point game being in triple overtime.

"We've done some really great things at the end of the game to win … whether it was a defensive stop or a huge basket or something good," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We certainly would hope that karma continues."

Honors: Griner was named the Associated Press player of the year. Only Griner, LSU's Seimone Augustus and Tennessee's Chamique Holds­claw have won the award two straight seasons. Griner, who averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks, earned 37 of 40 votes from a media panel. McGraw was named coach of the year. McGraw, whose team has won 30 in a row, received 24 votes.

Comments
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Racing schedules for 2018-19 parimutuel seasons released

OLDSMAR — Eight is not enough at Tampa Bay Downs, at least when the thoroughbred racing facility on Race Track Road opens its 93rd season July 1.The final card of what will be the Downs' sixth annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing will featu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blueline. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by Steve (Yze...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I'm going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

ST. PETERSBURG — Former Lakewood High coach Brian Bruch started each season with the same spiel. He cautioned his players about not becoming obsessed with a professional football career, reciting statistics to emphasize the difficult the odds o...
Updated: 7 hours ago