Jim Souhan
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An admonition to fans and media at the Minneapolis Final Four:

This weekend should be about the games and the atmosphere, the drama of a captivating tournament.

This is no time for lengthy reminders on last year's "workout" "facilities'' available to women players in the NCAAs, which consisted of little more than a Shake Weight and a slightlyused ThighMaster.

This weekend is about four excellent coaches, four great programs and dozens of exceptional athletes. The only non-No. 1 seed in town is superpower UConn, featuring Paige Bueckers of Hopkins, who made eight consecutive shots and all six of her free throws after halftime of a regional final to help beat No. 1 seed North Carolina State in two overtimes.

That might have been the best basketball game played anywhere this year. That's what you should be talking about in the runup to Friday night's semifinals. Not what Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer calls "hot dogs for the girls and steak for the boys,'' the disparity between men's and women's programs.

Concentrate on the coaches. The least-accomplished head coach working this weekend is Louisville's Jeff Walz, whose team is in the Final Four for the fourth time. Being the "least-accomplished'' coach at this Final Four is like being America's poorest billionaire.

UConn's Geno Auriemma is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and there's not much daylight between him and two of his competitors.

VanDerveer has won three national titles, including last year's, and was the USA Olympic coach in 1996. With Mike Krzyzewski retiring, either she or Auriemma should soon become the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history.

South Carolina's Dawn Staley is the 2022 Naismith Women's Coach of the Year and has won four Olympic gold medals, including one as a coach. She's one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has won a national title and may be building the next college basketball dynasty.

You can't write the history of basketball without mentioning these three, and Walz could enter the conversation with a couple of titles.

These coaches should dominate conversations at Target Center this weekend. Don't waste time asking why it took until this tournament for the NCAA to allow women to use the term March Madness. Why would the NCAA popularize a sport played by, you know, women.

Focus on the players. South Carolina features Naismith Player of the Year Aliyah Boston, Louisville the irrepressible Hailey Van Lith. UConn has Bueckers, Christyn Williams and Azzi Fudd, and Stanford has Cameron Brink, Haley Jones and Lexie Hull, and all four teams have quality depth.

Those players should be the story, not the fact that the NCAA plans to hold future women's Final Fours in Florida and Texas, states waging assault on women's (and other human's) rights.

Don't focus on inequity. Imagine Bueckers winning a title in her hometown, and in a building where her idol, Lindsay Whalen, became a legend.

That's the story that should echo through the skyway this week, not those about NCAA executives who, according to sports economists, have left many millions on the table by failing to capitalize on the earning power of women's basketball.

USA Today released a remarkably detailed report on the spending discrepancy between men's and women's sports, and men's and women's basketball. The 107 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision spent more than twice on men's sports than they spent on women's sports, which should be valued even if they weren't untapped sources of revenue.

"Women's sports are important,'' Hull said on Thursday. "Equity is important.''

Auriemma said he doesn't worry about money as much as logistics, noting that two women's teams played on Monday night and will play their "biggest game'' four days later, while the men get six days of rest.

We Minnesotans are polite, in a passive-aggressive kind of way. We promise not to talk about sexism while the Final Four is in town. We let side-eye do our talking.

So let the NCAA executives enjoy the weekend. Maybe they can even sell those slightly used ThighMasters at one of our fine local pawn shops.