7 p.m.: Georgia practices
I'm sitting here courtside at Time Warner Cable Arena - or the Cable Box, as one of you suggested - watching the Bulldogs go through their public shootaround. Mark Fox is leading the team in a somewhat serious set of drills, though the more detailed practice will be later tonight, out of public view.
Georgia will head off site later to gear up for Washington, while the current public practice is more for show, and to get acclimated to the court. Georgia is practicing later at night to be prepared for the late start time on Friday.
I'll have more from Georgia in my regular story for Friday's paper. It will be more of a scene piece, as the Bulldogs enjoy being at the NCAAs for the first time in three years.
5:15 p.m.: Washington's Romar praises Fox, Thompkins
Washington just took its turn at the podium. A few highlights:
- Huskies star Isaiah Thomas was asked (for probably the thousandth time) what it’s like to share a name with a basketball legend.
“It’s a blessing,” Thomas said. “If I don’t play well, people think, ‘Dang, why is his name like Isaiah Thomas.’ But when I play well it’s cool.”
- Head coach Lorenzo Romar took the high road when asked if it was unfair for his team to have to travel cross country.
“Usually I’m thinking during our season if we take care of our business we don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “We’ve been inconsistent this year, and as a result we’ve flown 2,000 miles across the country. … We’ve kind of made our bed in that regard.”
- Romar also knows Mark Fox well, apparently through the coaching business out west. Romar called Fox a “very driven person.”
“Mark’s a great guy but he’s also kind of a no-nonsense guy. You can see that he approaches everything he does with a person,” Romar said. “And he’s a heck of a coach. He’s done really well. He’s come up through the ranks. He did a great job at Nevada and here at Georgia you can see he has them playing the right way.”
- Romar also knows Georgia star Trey Thompkins very well, having coached him last summer on the U.S. “Seelect” team, which scrimmaged for two weeks against the National team. The Washington head coach praised Thompkins’ attitude, mobility, versatility, and ability to score from inside and outside.
“He was impressive when I saw him and I was impressed by him as a player and a person,” Romar said. “It was the first thing I thought of when I saw we were going to play Georgia. Immediately (I asked): How in the world are we going to guard him?”
4:15 p.m.: Roy Williams remembers Mark Fox and his notebook of ideas
Mark Fox only spent one year at Kansas, in an unpaid, informal capacity following then-coach Roy Williams and his team. But it apparently made an impression on Williams, now the North Carolina head coach.
Williams recalled Thursday getting a letter from Fox asking if he could be a volunteer coach for the 1993-94 coach. Williams said he couldn’t, then Fox asked if he could just hang out and observe practice while taking graduate classes in Lawrence.
“I talked to Joe Holliday, my assistant, and Joe said, ‘I wouldn’t do that,’ ” Williams said. “I said, ‘Joe it’s a young coach, let’s try to help him.’ Mark and Joe are great friends too, but they weren’t at that time. So I decided to let him.
“Mark came to every practice. He gave me a notebook at the end of the year with his thoughts and ideas and his interpretations of what we tried to do and wanted to do. It was extremely thorough and well-thought out. If I had been a teacher I would’ve gave him an A+.”
Then two months after the season Fox got another job – as a full-time assistant at in-state rival Kansas State.
“It wasn’t the smartest thing I’d ever done," Williams said. "Joe said, ‘I told you so.’ ”
But apparently it didn't hurt Kansas too much. The next season, according to Williams, the Jayhawks ran an inbounds play and dunked it.
“I looked down at the (Kansas State) bench and Mark broke his clipboard on the other end,” Williams said. “It showed that coaching doesn’t matter as much as players. He’s a wonderful guy, and we’ve been wonderful friends for a long time.”
2:10 p.m.: Coach K speaks
The head coach of the Duke men's basketball team is a fellow by the name of Mike Krzyzewski. People affectionately call him Coach K. Anyway, he just had his press conference, which produced the following:
- Kyrie Irving WILL play on Friday night, and will play "limited minutes," according to Krzzyewski. Adjust your brackets accordingly. Well it's too late for that. Okay, then adjust gambling lines accordingly.
- A reporter from The New York Times asked Krzyzewski to respond to Jalen Rose's comments about Duke only recruiting "uncle Toms" back in the day. Krzzyewski declined to get into it, saying it had no relevance to what's going on now.
For the record, I didn't see Rose's comments as anything too harmful. It seemed Rose, now in his late 30s, was giving the point of view he had as a teenager with the Fab Five. And hey, when I was a teenager in the early 1990s, I thought "Another Bad Creation" was the next big thing. We all grow and mature.
1 p.m.: Mr. Blog Man settles in
CHARLOTTE - Georgia doesn't practice until later tonight here at Time Warner Cable Arena - boy that's a mouthful - but I'm here, along with other assorted media members and teams.
The NCAA is making media members pay $20 to access their wireless system, and since several of our air cards aren't working too well - shockingly - I forked it over. I do have to give the NCAA credit on one thing: The passcode they gave me was "Crap2E" ... Not kidding about that.
As you'd expect, the North Carolina and Duke media contingents are dominating the work room. And the Kyrie Irving storyline will dominate the afternoon.
But the two SEC teams here are making their own noise. Or at least Tennessee is, and not for the right reasons. This might be it for head coach Bruce Pearl, who had his pregame news conference a short time ago.
"As soon as the season is over is when we will talk," Pearl said. "It is what it is and if there has been a change in my status it will be dealt with."
Well that doesn't sound too hopeful.
I'll have updates, thoughts and other assorted comments throughout the day here. Read and enjoy, enjoying you're still sober on this St. Patrick's Day. Hey, even if you're already loaded, read and enjoy anyway.
Thursday, March 17, 2011