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WNBA stars agree: ‘This will be a great Final Four’

“It’s amazing for women’s basketball to continue to get eyes and viewership hopefully from different perspectives," Breanna Stewart said.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Greensboro Regional - Creighton v South Caroilna
The South Carolina Gamecocks celebrate a trip to the Final Four in the Greensboro regional finals of the women's college basketball NCAA Tournament Sunday, March 27, 2022, at Greensboro Coliseum.
William Howard / USA Today Sports
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Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve knows all of the coaches set to compete in this weekend’s Women’s Final Four all too well.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz stopped by Wednesday’s USA Basketball training camp, run by Reeve. Reeve, now the head coach, previously served under UConn coach Geno Auriemma and then South Carolina coach Dawn Staley for the red, white and blue. Then there’s Stanford legend Tara VanDerveer.

So, who has the coaching edge this weekend?

“From a coaching perspective? None of them,” Reeve said. “It is going to be the highest level. You think about the players that are playing, the coaches that are coaching, this is a darn good Final Four.”

That was the general consensus among the titans of the WNBA who were present at the Lynx practice facility Wednesday. This is about as good as it gets. Buckle up.

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“It’s going to be a great Final Four. All the teams are stacked,” Breanna Stewart said. “It’s amazing for women’s basketball to continue to get eyes and viewership hopefully from different perspectives.”

Reeve knows Minnesotans will latch on to the Paige Bueckers angle — how could they not? She’s happy fans get to cheer on one of their own. But she added this weekend goes well beyond that.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Bridgeport Regional-UConn vs NC State
UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers (5) drives the ball against NC State Wolfpack forward Jada Boyd (5) during the second half in the Bridgeport regional finals of the women's college basketball NCAA Tournament Monday, March 28, 2022, at Webster Bank Arena.
David Butler II / USA Today Sports

“Where women’s basketball is and what we expect in terms of viewership — in the building, the ratings in terms of the TV standpoint, this is going to be a great spectacle, for sure,” Reeve said. “And I’m happy it is here in Minnesota.”

BRING ON THE BANTER

A’ja Wilson was in the process of attaining more South Carolina garb. She’s in Minneapolis this week, along with many of the country’s other top stars, for a USA Basketball training camp conducted by national team coach Cheryl Reeve.

Wilson’s goal was to get Gamecocks gear to every teammate whose alma mater had already been taken down in the tournament by South Carolina.

“It’s all about Gamecocks right now,” Wilson said.

Let the banter begin.

“There will be. I think today was the first day, so we’re all getting settled in a little bit,” said Breanna Stewart, one of the game’s top players, and a UConn alum. “There’s definitely going to be some banter.”

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Lynx wing Angel McCoughtry is also at the camp, and has been tweeting all week about Louisville, her alma mater. Stewart is anxious to support UConn.

The support piece is key. These star players are more than just alums when they move onto the highest level. They remain invested in the program and are assets to current players. As of Wednesday morning, Stewart already had touched base with a few current Huskies players on Instagram, and planned to attend the team’s dinner later that evening to chat with others.

“Just be here to support them,” Stewart said. “I think the thing with the Final Four, you made it this far, like enjoy where you are but realize the work isn’t done.”

Wilson joked that this year’s Gamecocks team isn’t better than her 2017 title team, but noted this South Carolina unit is “phenomenal” on the defensive end.

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