Calm Before The Storm

By Jerry Palm - April 07, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- The Sunday before the title game is usually a day of rest and relaxation. Over at the dome, the teams have brief practice/walk through sessions and meet the media one last time before the game. Fans of the winning teams are out taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Fans of the losing teams are harder to find and probably trying to get out of Dodge.

One of the things fans can do is attend free concerts downtown. This stage here is right outside the convention center.

Setting up for the day of music

The NCAA's kickin' booty

Wonder if I could get a free meal here?

They had acts like Kid Rock and a bunch of other bands that I'm sure are great, but I've never heard of them because my music is still stuck in the 70s and 80s. I was excited to hear Queen's One Vision over the loudspeaker during warm-ups on Saturday.

At the press conferences, everyone was in a pretty good mood. And why not? The teams still playing were great on Saturday night, so they are feeling pretty good about themselves.

Memphis coach John Calipari is funny and charismatic, and always has some good stories to tell. Here's some snippets from yesterday.

Cal was asked which kid he yells at the most: "They all argue. They all think it's them. I got 12 guys that think it's them. But my wife's son is Joey, so when I yell at Joey too much, it's the first thing I hear when I walk in the door. Would you just leave him alone?"

Asked about a perceived lack of respect for his coaching abilities: "I've been national coach of the year. That's fine. I want the national title for this team and this city, and that's what we're striving for. And if it's, yeah, they won it, but he can't coach, I'll do seven back flips with one hip coming off the floor, I swear I will. At least I'll try."

About how winning a title defines your career; "But within our coaching -- I think all of us are disappointed that a career has to be established or validated by a Final Four appearance. We can name how many coaches that did not go to a Final Four? And in most cases, they weren't at a school that should get to a Final Four. But they coached better than anybody in the country. You could go from John Cheney to Norm Stewart to Gene Keady. One is in the Hall of Fame, the other should be in the Hall of Fame. If you tell me, They never got to a Final Four, that's why they're not in the Hall of Fame, you're crazy. How about Bobby McKillop right now at Davidson. Are you crazy? Him getting to an Elite Eight is winning three back-to-back national titles."

Kansas coach Bill Self is more of a laid back personality than Calipari, but he can be funny as well.

His opening remark, as he sits at the dais by himself because his players are late: "I hope we show up tomorrow better than we have today."

On the pressure of coaching at Kansas: "People correlate passion and caring to pressure. To be real candid with you, I don't see it that way and I don't feel it that way. I think from a fan base, I've said this before, we have the most realistic unrealistic fans around. Not everybody can say that coaching at a high-profile place."

On what he did as a grad asst at Kansas [a job Calipari also had once]: "I think my jobs were much more meaningful than serving the peas and the corn. [One of Cal's jobs] I was in charge of making sure we rented out the correct bowling alley on game days and numerous things like that, because if you know Coach Brown, he's very, very, very superstitious, because if you bowl and you play well, you probably played well because you bowled on that lane, and it had nothing to do with Danny [Manning]."

How he recruits to Kansas: "We promise them all they're going to start and play every minute. That's how we get guys."

How he is treated in Lawrence: "A lot of times I go to dinner and nobody will speak to me. I'm thinking, Hey, we won three in a row. We haven't lost three in a row. But I think people are very respectful of my personal time."

One of these guys is going to be a little less jovial this time tomorrow.

Posted by Jerry Palm at 09:20 AM on April 07, 2008

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