Final Four: Name Droppings, part deux

By Jerry Palm - March 31, 2007

Back by popular demand, another edition of Name Droppings.

After leaving the dome yesterday, David and I made it back to the coaches hotel (I sat next to a couple of Ole Miss assistants on the bus - they were bragging on their season a bit) and hung out with the Wetzels, Drexel assistant coach Tony Childs, and Charlie Pierce. Pierce is apparently a writing legend on the East coast. I've seen him at every Final Four I've been at wearing the gaudy hat with eight sections, each one representing a SWAC school (note - the SWAC is a conference of HBCUs, he's a middle-aged white guy who went to Marquette). And at every Final Four I've been at, the media folks flock to him like ants to a picnic. I didn't get to ask, but I wonder why he doesn't just get a credential.

I also talked shop Ted Gangi from the FWAA and USBWA (football and basketball writers groups). Gangi said he was going to try to introduce me to Joe Lunardi, who is supposedly here somewhere. One question I get asked frequently, especially in early March, is what my relationship is with Joe (since we are generally considered to be the main resources as bracket-guessers). People expect us to have a deep hatred-filled rivalry, but we've corresponded over the years (not as much now as say, ten years ago, because we're both so busy) and it's always been friendly discourse. We've just never met in person because we're rarely in the same part of the world.

After David and TC took off, the Wetzels and I went to the sports bar in the media hotel for dinner and ran into Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star. It's fun for a relative newbie like me to listen to guys like Bob and Dan talk about the trials and tribulations (and joys) of their jobs.

Another of my agents, Dennis Dodd from CBS Sportsline, showed up with another group of writers after a while. Dodd usually covers college football, but is taking a temporary break from spring practice coverage to help on on hoops this weekend.

Then it was off to the CBS party in a cab driven by Edwin Okafor, who claimed to be a cousin of Emeka. You can read some about that below. I was hanging out with the Hoops Odyssey guys a little (more Matt than Jake). There was a ton of CSTV people there. I also got to sit in on the chat the HO guys had with Maryland coach Gary Williams, who I fully expected to try to throw me off the balcony. I was a bit tough on his Terps the last couple of years (not this year, but the two previous) and a reporter told me that he took my name in vain more than once. He probably forgot all that though, because none of that ever came up.

Among the CSTV people I saw was fellow Hangtimer Bryan Graham, who until then had successfully avoided me. He couldn't escape in the crowded party room though. I also chatted Purdue basketball with Steve Lappas, who had met coach Matt Painter earlier in the day and couldn't believe how tall he is. Matt's 6'6", but all Lappas knew was that he was a point guard at Purdue. You don't see a lot of 6'6" PGs now, and that was especially true back when Matt played in the early 90s.

I also got to talk with ESPN's Doug Gottlieb, Tim Brando, CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish, Hannah Storm (I'll let Matt tell that story), and played a brief, but weird game of charades with Shawn Farnham through a window between the party room and the balcony.

After David ditched me, I ended up walking back to the hotel and went past a couple of interesting places. One was Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken and Waffles, which appeared to be doing a brisk business for 2 AM. The other was a place that I think was called Jango (the logo was tough to read), which billed itself as a Gypsy Kitchen and Saloon. Gypsies must go to bed early though because it was closed.

And finally, just this morning, I said hello to Lute Olson (in the Starbux at the hotel - he's a latte guy), Bruce Pearl, and Illinois assistant Jay Price, who I know from his days at Purdue.

Games today, of course, and I'm going to try to hit some pregame festivities.

Posted by Jerry Palm at 08:54 AM on March 31, 2007

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