Calmness.

That’s the word Oregon coach Kelly Graves chose to scribble on his piece of white tape, which all of the Ducks wore on their left wrists at the Portland Regional.

The players came up with the idea to remind themselves of what they wanted to bring to the team as it attempted to break through to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

Some of the simple Sharpie messages included “love” (Maite Cazorla), “joy” (Ruthy Hebard), “support” (Satou Sabally), “value” (Lydia Giomi).

Assistant Mark Campbell wrote the acronym “W.S.” for his postgame locker room tradition of yelling “Winner stays!” when Oregon survives and advances in the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Graves wanted the Ducks (33-4) to have fun, enjoy the moment and remain calm, which they did down the stretch to topple top-seeded Mississippi State 88-84 in the Elite Eight on Sunday.

That’s the same approach the Pac-12 champions plan to take during the national semifinal against Baylor on Friday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. (4 p.m., ESPN2).

“We are who we are,” Graves said. “I’ve had pretty much every commentator and people who are around the game and see lots of teams say we’re probably the loosest team that they see. We’re not going to change.”

 

Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw have coached their respective programs to two national championships.

And it’s easy to lose track of how many rings Geno Auriemma has collected over the years at UConn.

Now Graves is finally stepping into the Final Four spotlight after losing one regional final at Gonzaga and regional finals to Auriemma and McGraw the past two seasons.

“Coach Mulkey has won two national championships, and Muffet McGraw has won two, and Geno has won more than I have fingers. This is our first time,” Graves noted before the Ducks headed to the airport Tuesday to catch their cross-country charter flight. “It’s a new experience for us, but this team has been under the microscope and had a lot of pressure on them and a lot of eyes, a lot of attention all year long.

“It’s a bigger stage but I think we’ll be used to it.”

The Bears (35-1) are the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed and have breezed through the bracket so far, winning their four NCAA Tournament games by an average of 30.8 points.

Baylor, which has two dominant post players in 6-foot-7 Kalani Brown and 6-4 Lauren Cox, leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense (31.3) and is third in field-goal percentage (50.3).

“We happen to be the overall No. 1 seed probably because of the timing of how losses happened late in the year,” said Mulkey, whose team demolished Iowa 85-53 in the Elite Eight. “But we're just happy to get there, to bring players who have never been there, and realize Oregon is an unbelievably talented team.

“I don't know that we're the hunted or the hunter.”

Stanford was the only team to beat Baylor this season and also defeated Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game last month. But the Cardinal lost 84-68 to Notre Dame in the Chicago Regional final.

The Irish (34-3), who overcame a six-point halftime deficit against the Ducks in the Elite Eight last season in Spokane, are the defending national champions.

“I think we're playing the best team in the country,” Auriemma said of Friday’s national semifinal matchup between his Huskies (35-2) and Notre Dame. “If you look at their lineup, the amount of scorers that they have, experience that they have, just the quality of their players, I think it's a formidable task for us and for anybody to beat a team like that.”

UConn was the No. 2 seed in the Albany Regional but took down No. 1 Louisville 80-73 on Sunday to avenge a loss during the regular season. Baylor was the only other team to beat the Huskies this season.

There were years when it was a foregone conclusion that Auriemma, who has won 11 national championships, would be cutting down the net at the end of the Final Four.

That hasn’t been the case the past two seasons when the Huskies were sent packing on buzzer-beating shots by Mississippi State and Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame and UConn, people have come to notice one or both of us has a pretty good chance year in and year out, because that's the way it's played out, to be in the Final Four,” Auriemma said. “Baylor is back. They haven't been there since 2012. Then Oregon for the first time.

“When Kelly Graves got the job at Oregon, I remember telling the people at Nike, ‘I think they're going to be in the Final Four in four years.’

“He's a really good coach, and Oregon is going to obviously do whatever they need to do, they're going to get great.”

Graves’ planned to rebuild the program into a viable Final Four threat by his fourth season, which Oregon did last March.

Now that the Ducks have arrived on the sport’s biggest stage, they will enter the spotlight with a sense of calmness.

“I’ve told everybody for a long time, if I ever get to a Final Four and have a chance at a national championship and I change, you can slap me upside the head,” Graves said. “Because I don’t want to be any different than I normally am. We’re going to go in with a happy-go-lucky attitude like we have, and then when the lights go on be ready to play.

“Our team is going to be ready to play and compete.”