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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.