Late tip no issue for MU
With Missouri’s NCAA Tournament opener against Colorado State not slated to tip off until 8:20 p.m. Thursday, you might think that would leave the Tigers with plenty of free time during the day.
Not so much, according to coach Frank Haith.
“I don’t want them sitting around in the hotel all day, so we’ll do some things to get them moving,” Haith said. “We’ve got academics, we’ve got study hall. So we’ll make the day as normal as possible, but it’s tough having them just sit around all day.”
The good news, Haith said, is that both of Missouri’s games in the SEC tournament last week started after 9 p.m., so the Tigers are at least somewhat accustomed to late starts.
“We’ve had some experience with it,” Haith said.
Junior point guard Phil Pressey gets plenty of notoriety for his skills and his last name — his father, Paul, played in the NBA for several years — but not everybody is aware of his basketball lineage.
“I didn’t know he was Paul’s son — is that correct?” Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy asked. “I can see he’s got a great natural feel. I had Jamaal Tinsley, he really reminds me of Jamaal. He has eyes in the back in his head.”
Lawrence’s Green ready
Colorado State senior guard Dorian Green, a Lawrence High grad who averages 12.8 points and 3.8 assists per game, has been limited because of a sprained ankle recently, but his coach expects him to play.
“He’s not a hundred percent, but whatever he is, he’s a lot better,” Eustachy said. “He has to play over his head. I told him, if you’re 90 percent, you have to play 110 percent. We need you to step up.
“This is a chance for him to be a hero and play hurt. And he is hurt, you know, it’s painful. But it’s nothing that’s going to hurt his future career or damage anything for the future … so it’s just a matter of handling the pain, and like I said, Pressey is their key and Dorian is our key.”
Louisville in enemy territory?
Louisville senior Peyton Siva strolled into Rupp Arena a little after 3 p.m. Wednesday, but something didn’t feel quite right when he stepped on the court, looking up at a sea of blue seats and blue paint on the walls.
For four years, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena has been enemy territory for Siva, where he has been booed nearly every time he’s set foot on this floor. Until Wednesday.
As the Cardinals ran onto the floor for a 40-minute open practice session, a group of Louisville fans — who arrived a day early for the top-seeded Cardinals’ matchup with 16th-seeded North Carolina A, which tips off at 5:50 p.m. Thursday — rose to its feet and cheered.
The most hated team in town is suddenly its most popular.
“For me personally, I’m just happy not to play Kentucky here because I haven’t had great success playing against Kentucky at (Rupp Arena),” Siva said. “But it feels good to have the No. 1 overall seed and to play in a closer location for our fans (so they) can come get a chance to watch us.”
Louisville’s home arena — the KFC Yum! Center — is only about a 70-minute drive from Rupp Arena.
Given that it’s the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, it’s a wise bet that Louisville’s red and black will dominate the stands Thursday.
But most of the team, as well as coach Rick Pitino, who coached at Kentucky for eight seasons, downplayed the importance of a chance to win tournament games on a rival’s home court.
“I don’t root against Kentucky except one game a year,” Pitino said. “Very, very proud of this place. I had eight years where I really didn’t have a bad day here. ... So it wouldn’t be that rewarding wining here. What would be rewarding is that fact we would get to Indianapolis (for the Sweet 16).”
Recruiting upset, part I
Five years later, Stephen Curry is still helping the Davidson Wildcats win basketball games.
In 2008, Curry led 10th-seeded Davidson to an improbable run into the Elite Eight. The Wildcats lost to eventual champion Kansas 59-57 with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Curry now plays for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, but his postseason magic has lingering effects. In fact, a group of three Davidson seniors said that tournament run played a big role in their decisions to attend Davidson.
“It did for me,” said senior Jake Cohen, who leads the team with 14.8 points per game. “To see Davidson on that national stage and be successful showed me that not only could Davidson provide me a great academic situation but it could put me on a national stage in a place to do something where I could be really successful.”
Davidson, a No. 14 seed, will faced third-seeded Marquette about 2:10 p.m. Thursday at Rupp Arena in an East Regional opener. Two Kansas City-area players, senior forward Clint Mann from St. Thomas Aquinas and sophomore guard Tyler Kalinoski of Olathe East, are key contributors for the Wildcats.
Recruiting upset, part II
Thursday’s first game in Lexington — No. 11 seed Bucknell against No. 6 seed Butler in the East Region at 11:40 a.m. — also may have never happened if not for an NCAA Tournament upset.
In 2005, 14th-seeded Bucknell shocked Kansas in the round of 64, defeating the third-seeded Jayhawks 64-63.
“That’s one of the big reasons I came to Bucknell,” said Bison senior Mike Muscala, who leads his team with 19.0 points per game. “I remember that win over Kansas, and I remember as a high school player really wanting to play in the NCAA Tournament. … I wanted to get a good education but also play at a high level in terms of basketball. I saw that with Bucknell.”
Muscala and fellow senior Bryson Johnson said they didn’t even know where Bucknell was located before that game. (It’s in Lewisburg, Pa.)
“I had no idea,” Johnson said.