April 09, 2008

Those Memphis Blues Again

Author's Note: I wrote this for a Boston-based website, but it has resonance beyond Beantown, I think. This will be my final post at Hang Time and I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have. Hope to see you all again next basketball season, somewhere, somehow.

They have Gus's fried chicken, we have Kelly's roast beef. They've got Elvis, we've got Aerosmith. Visitors there can see where MLK was killed. Visitors here can see where JFK was born.

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April 05, 2008

Getting Ready For Some Fun

SAN ANTONIO -- Here's what the floor of the Final Four looks like here in San Antonio two and a half hours before game time.

FinalFourFloor.jpg

UCLA and Memphis tip off at 5:07 p.m. Central time. I'm guessing this place will look a whole lot different by that time. Should be wicked fun. Can't wait.

April 04, 2008

Williams Not Worried About Facing Former Team

SAN ANTONIO -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams knew while his team played Louisville in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend that there was a decent chance he could be facing his former team in the Final Four.

But after Kansas' survival victory over Davidson in the Elite Eight last weekend, that circumstance has now become a reality and Williams has never really totally forgotten about his days in Lawrence, Kan.

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North Carolina Takes Floor For Open Practice

SAN ANTONIO -- North Carolina has taken the floor for its open practice here at the Alamodome, and the Tar Heel faithful that have shown up for the session are on their feet and applauding their team.

Stretching, of course, is the first order of business for Roy Williams' players, and after Kansas' Rodrick Stewart fractured his kneecap earlier this afternoon on a dunk attempt late in the Jayhawks' open practice session, you can't undermine the importance of getting those ligaments and tendons all worked out before putting any other stress on the body.

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UCLA Is All Business In Alamo City

SAN ANTONIO -- UCLA point guard Darren Collison is making his third straight appearance in the Final Four.

But while the Bruins ended both of their previous two runs to two-time national champ Florida, they won't have to worry about facing the Gators here in San Antonio.

Now after two years of disappointment on this same stage, it's just business as usual for Ben Howland's club.

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March 30, 2008

Uh Oh, Canada

DETROIT -- I spent part of the off day here in Detroit thinking of the movie, "The Terminal." That is the one where Tom Hanks plays an Eastern European who spends a month at JFK because the US won't let him into the country when he arrives, and there are no flights back to his home country, so he's stuck...

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March 29, 2008

Small-Town Coaches, Big-Time Game

HOUSTON -- They will share an ovesized stage on Sunday afternoon, underneath an enormous retractable roof in front of a mass of 30,000-plus fans and oh yes, a few folks from the little towns of Hickory, N.C., and Moon Township, Pa., will probably tune in.

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March 28, 2008

When Student-Athlete Isn't An Oxymoron

HOUSTON -- There are, as you may be aware after watching the last couple of years of NCAA programming, over 380,000 NCAA student-athletes.

"And," as the Association's public service announcement proclaims, "just about all of them will be going pro in something other than sports."

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March 24, 2008

Mile Highs and A Few Lows

Back in my home base in Northwest Indiana, I have had some time to reflect on a few of the bright spots, and some not so bright, of the Denver sub-regional.

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March 22, 2008

One Day, One Bar and Lots Of TVs

DENVER -- I set out yesterday determined to find the best sports bar in Denver, plop myself down, and watch about 12 hours of hoops. I succeeded in finding the Blake St. Tavern, where every seat in the house had a view of at least 4 TVs with different games. It ended up being a great day to watch games in a crowd, even if you were alone in the crowd.

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March 16, 2008

Surprises and Suspense On Selection Sunday

For many teams all across the country, Selection Sunday is a day full of suspense and surprise.

It's a day of jubilation for some and a day of misery for others.

And while the bubble talk has dominated the airwaves and media rooms across the country for the past two weeks, that can finally subside with the brackets being announced tonight on CBS.

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March 22, 2007

The Price of Success

Thought I'd pull these numbers during a layover in Houston spent in a creepy terminal that smelled like stale beer and lost dreams. Seeding the Sweet 16 in order of athletic budget for 2006:

1. Ohio State ($101,804,848)
2. Florida ($78,177,776)
3. Tennessee ($66,165,792)
4. Southern California ($65,434,876
5. Texas A&M ($61,419,536)
6. North Carolina ($53,753,892)
7. UCLA ($52,049,868)
8. Kansas ($47,554,572)
9. Oregon ($44,630,104)
10. Vanderbilt ($40,373,884)
11. Pittsburgh ($33,170,296)
12. Memphis ($27,155,528)
13. UNLV ($23,622,540)
14. Georgetown ($23,605,054)
15. Southern Illinois ($9,703,501)
16. Butler ($9,603,605)

(Source: Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Tournament Edition)

The Injury Report

A quick status update on three injuries of note:

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis

Status: Questionable

Douglas-Roberts, who averages a team-high 15.4 points for the second-seeded Tigers, suffered a left ankle sprain during his team's second-round victory over Nevada on Sunday. The Detroit native missed the team's open practice at the Alamodome on Wednesday but took part in a private workout in the morning. Memphis coach John Calipari remains optimistic about his availability.

Earlier in the week, Douglas-Roberts assumed a defiant tone about his status for Thursday night's South Regional semifinal against third-seeded Texas A&M. But the 6-foot-6, 190-pound sophomore has since relaxed his stance and deemed his availability a "game-time decision."

"The way he's been treating his ankle, getting ready for it, hopefully it all pays off for him," fellow sophomore Antonio Anderson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Wednesday. "He deserves it. He's battled all year. Hopefully the man upstairs looks out for us and him and gives us what we want and what he wants, which is for him to play."

Matt Shaw, Southern Illinois

Status: Probable

Shaw, who suffered a high ankle sprain Friday in his side's first-round win over Holy Cross, participated in a 50-minute public practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night's West Regional semifinal meeting with top-seeded Kansas.

The 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior, who averages 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Salukis, provides Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery with a valuable inside-outside threat. The Centralia, Ill., native has put down 42 three-pointers through 35 games -- a consideration which Kansas power forward Julian Wright (who would be Shaw's likely matchup) must respect.

"I'm still not fully recovered," Shaw told the Daily Herald on Wednesday. "I can't do everything quite I'm capable of, but I'm just going to keep working at it, keep getting treatment. Just do everything I can do to get it better."

Reyshawn Terry, North Carolina

Status: Probable

The top-seeded Tar Heels would still be prohibitive favorites against Southern California even if Terry's sudden bout with strep throat sidelined the 6-foot-8, 232-pound senior for Friday night's East Regional semifinal. But Roy Williams would much rather his most accurate long-range threat -- and most productive upperclassman -- be available to play when North Carolina faces the fifth-seeded Trojans.

Terry has been sick for close to week since missing a team shootaround with a headache and fever prior to his team's second-round victory over Michigan State. Doctors diagnosed the Winston-Salem, N.C., native with strep throat but the school said Terry was improving and didn't have a fever Wednesday.

The athletic forward averages 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds and has not missed a start through 36 games this season.

March 20, 2007

Withdrawal Hurts But Hoya Paranoya Would Heal

I miss Buffalo.

That's how hard I've fallen for this season of college hoops.

I miss everything about Buffalo. The snow, the ice, the slush, the cold PBR in a can.

When you get around this thing called the NCAA Tournament and when you start inhaling its fumes and absorbing its message, you start to get a bit attached. Sure it's nice to get home, see the dog and sleep in your own bed. But it'll also be nice to get to East Rutherford on Thursday. There's a potentially brilliant second round looming and I'm ready to be immersed in some sky blue and some Hoya Paranoya.

If the re-match of the 1982 title game does come to pass, the Meadowlands Arena on Sunday afternoon could become a very historic place.

Wouldn't Jordan have to be there? And Patrick Ewing, of course, with his son involved. And John Thompson and Dean Smith. And Dave Gavitt for sure because of his vision to include Georgetown in the mix of his little conference that could. And who knows who else?

But no matter who is in attendance for that looming contest (and both Georgetown and UNC are the substantial Las Vegas favorites to win over Vanderbilt and USC on Friday night), there is no proper way to commemorate the importance of that game from 25 seasons - and an entire technologically advanced generation - ago.

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March 16, 2007

Spokane: Up and running

Alright, after a lot of technical difficulties, we are up and running! Both teams are on the floor warming up, refs have just walked out and bands are in full force.

I didn't get a chance to post a blog yesterday because we were in the car FOREVER but here's the skinny on these two teams:

No. 6 seed Notre Dame: Irish have won six of their last seven, dropping an 84-82 heartbreaker to Georgetown in the Big East semis. Easily one of the best coaching jobs in the nation this year was done by ND's Mike Brey. Guard Russel Carter leads Irish with 17 points per game, but Irish also have three other scorers who average over 10 points per game. They also have some big-time rookies: ND starts two freshmen and both were on the Big East All-Rookiet team.

No. 11 seed Winthrop: If I were Notre Dame, I would be scared. That's because Winthrop has lost just four games this season, and they were to some darn good teams: UNC, Maryland, Wisconsin and Texas A&M. Eke. Eagles are in the tourney for the seventh time and could do some serious damage (I think all Bracketologists would agree this is the easiest region). Junior Michael Jenkins leads the team with 15 points and three assists per game. I'm going to call it now: Winthrop will win. I say this for two reasons: 1.) They are better and on a bit of a roll right now. 2.) While the Big East is a major conf, I personally think it was a bit of a down year (UConn and Cuse aren't even in it?! Come on!) 3.) There weren't any upsets yesterday, so we're due.

National anthem just played. I love when old men sing along with our country's own fight song. Speaking of fight songs, the Winthrop band started playing its so loudly it about knocked me over when I walked past. But I recovered.

The Irish cheerleaders are doing a little high kick routine right now, ala the Rockettes. (Isn't that their name? I'm not old so I don't know ... I'll call my dad and ask.)

Arena isn't very full yet, but it will be later, espeically when the Ducks take the floor. It's been sold out for awhile and I met quite a few people on the road traveling up from Eugene.

Six minutes to tip ...

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