SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Stanford players just smile and laugh when they hear people say women's college basketball this season is "Connecticut and everybody else."
They can't really argue with the UConn part because the Huskies have won 76 straight games. Yet they can take issue being lumped in with "everybody else."
Stanford has beaten everybody else this season, too, the only blemish on its 35-1 record coming against Connecticut. With one more victory — against Oklahoma in the early game at the Final Four on Sunday night — coach Tara VanDerveer's players will have done their part to set up a tantalizing rematch with the Huskies in the national championship game.
"I think we have a lot of the mechanics it takes to win a national championship," said forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Stanford's leading scorer at 18.2 points per game and rebounder (9.6). "If we really work hard and play well, I think a lot of people will be happy with what they're seeing."
Stanford was the last team to beat Connecticut nearly two years ago in the 2008 Final Four. The Cardinal came closer to beating the Huskies this season than anyone else.
Like UConn, Stanford's season has been filled with lopsided wins. The Cardinal cruised in the NCAA tournament until the regional final against Xavier.
Xavier missed a pair of layups in the closing seconds, and allowed Jeanette Pohlen to race the length of the court with 4.4 seconds left for a buzzer-beating layup.
"You make it by 40 points, you make it by 4 seconds — either way you're still here at the Final Four," Stanford center Jayne Appel said. "I think that our team is aware of what we've accomplished this year. And we've played everyone: Duke, Tennessee, you name it. So we'll be coming out, ready to go."
So will Oklahoma, which enters the Final Four with a 27-10 record.
The Sooners got here a year after graduating one of the best players in school history, Courtney Paris, and after losing its expected top player, Whitney Hand, to a knee injury five games into the season. They overcame the nation's toughest schedule — Stanford is the only No. 1 seed they haven't faced — and their tournament run has been boosted by the emergence of Abi Olajuwon, the daughter of Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who worked her way into the starting lineup as a senior.
Point guard Danielle Robinson was named a third-team All-American, but that's it for headliners. So it's only fitting that the first thing you see walking into the OU locker room at the Alamodome is a big, handwritten sign that reads, "Talent wins games, but teammates win championships," with the names of every player and coach surrounding the phrase.
They're not simply happy to be here, either. They made that mistake last year, letting a 12-point halftime lead turn into a 2-point loss to Louisville.
"Last year, we settled," Robinson said. "We know how hard it is to get here, especially back to back, so we're just going to go out there and fight like we have for our whole season."
Oklahoma also has its own UConn-framed, claim-to-fame: The Sooners were the only team this season other than Stanford to lead the Huskies in the second half.
The Xs and Os make this a classic matchup of size (Stanford) vs. speed (Oklahoma). Point guards Robinson and Pohlen have been going against each other since they were kids in northern California, having met in a high school championship game in 2007 and having spent last summer together on the U.S. team that won gold at the World University Games.
Stanford has won the last three meetings, but both coaches downplayed any talk of a rivalry, noting that most of their meetings were in the NCAA tournament. The last one was in San Antonio, in a Sweet 16 game in 2006.
There's also a cool bit of ancient history: When VanDerveer coached Stanford in the Final Four for the first time, in 1990, she wore a ribbon that represented the fight to keep Oklahoma from dropping its women's basketball program.
"Thank goodness they didn't because look at what (coach Sherri Coale) has done and look at what a great program they have," VanDerveer said.
As great as Coale has done, she's the only coach at this Final Four without a national championship.
"I'm younger than the others, so write that, please," Coale said, laughing.