Sunday, April 3, 2005
Turns out, it's easy being green
By Eric Adelson ESPN The Magazine
INDIANAPOLIS -- Forget about dynasties. How about some darlings?
Forget oh-you-again UConn and Tennessee. How about two green teams -- Baylor and Michigan State -- that celebrate getting to title games as much as the Huskies and Lady Vols celebrate winning them?
How about a comeback from 24-9 against a Final Four returnee, followed by the greatest comeback in Final Four history -- against the winningest coach of all-time?
"Butterflies! Chills! Goosebumps!" raved Michigan State center Kelli Roehrig as if she was Roger Ebert after seeing Rocky I.
Forget about acting like you've been there. How about realizing you haven't? How about Lady Vol alum/Michigan State assistant coach Semeka Randall giggling as she called getting to a title game "an out-of-body experience"?
"At Tennessee it was expected," Randall said. "It's bad if you don't make it the final game. But being here with this team and it happening? Unbelievable."
And then: "We have practice tomorrow!"
How about two SEC powers melting down under pressure? How about the vaunted Lady Vols taking jittery, wild shots instead of dribbling out the clock?
Forget about the umpteenth meeting in "this storied rivalry." How about a brand-new one -- the first time in 12 years that two first-time Final Four contestants have met in the title game?
Forget wondering what Pat will wear or if Geno will fire a shot at the Evil Empire. How about wondering what adjustments Mulk and Coach P (as in parity) will make at halftime?
How about learning some names? How about Sophia Young's poker face and dead-eyed jumper? How about her flag-waving mom from the West Indies? "So happy!" is all she could say Sunday night. "So happy!"
How about Kristin Haynie and the greatest steal in Women's Final Four history? How much space did she close in the blink of an eye? A mile?
How about the Baylor fans dancing in the aisles not only after their team won but again when Michigan State did? How about Young herself finding out after a team meeting that the Spartans now stood in the way of a championship.
"Michigan State won?" she yelped. "Down 16? Wow!"
Forget "happy to be here" being a problem. How about "happy to be here!" being just what this sport needs.
"Nothing magical," said Randall. "Just some great girls."
How about that?
Eric Adelson writes for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.