|Gonzaga gets Davidson in its 10th straight NCAA tournament appearance|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 March 2008 14:06|
The 24th-ranked Zags have to fly across the country to play an opening round game against Davidson, owners of the nation's longest winning streak at 22 straight, on Friday morning in its home state of North Carolina.
Coach Mark Few doesn't care. The Zags built themselves into a national power by playing anyone, anywhere. They've already played 10 teams that made the NCAA tournament, including road trips to Connecticut, Saint Joseph's and Memphis.
``To make it for 10 straight years is probably the greatest thing we have been able to do here,'' said Few, an assistant the first year and head coach the past nine.
Seventh-seeded Gonzaga (25-7) is tied with Texas and Wisconsin for the sixth-longest streak of NCAA appearances, but has never gotten beyond the final eight, where the Bulldogs were eliminated in 1999 after capturing the nation's attention.
``We just want to come out and represent ourselves and the program, come out and play hard, leave some guys stunned on the East Coast about how hard we play,'' guard Jeremy Pargo said.
The Gonzaga-Davidson winner will likely get second-seeded Georgetown, which plays Maryland-Baltimore County in the Midwest Region. Kansas is the region's top seed.
Davidson relies on guards Jason Richards and Stephen Curry, who averages 25.1 points and hit 139 3-pointers to tie for first in the nation.
``You got to slow a guy like that down,'' said Pargo, who will likely be assigned the task.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A native of Kentucky, John Pelphrey has plenty of appreciation for Arkansas' next opponent.
``When I was growing up, Indiana was doing it. That was in their heyday,'' the Razorbacks' coach said Monday. ``Us playing Indiana in the NCAA tournament - that's a big deal.''
The ninth-seeded Razorbacks face the eighth-seeded Hoosiers in the first round Friday night in Raleigh, N.C. The teams have met only once before, more than a half-century ago.
But for Pelphrey, wanting to beat Indiana is nothing new.
Kentucky's rivalry with Indiana is one of the nation's fiercest, and when Pelphrey played for the Wildcats, those December clashes consistently came down to final few possessions.
In his first season as Arkansas' coach, Pelphrey and the Razorbacks are hoping for their own breakthrough against Indiana. Arkansas (22-11) is in the NCAA tournament for the third straight year, but the Hogs haven't won a game there since 1999.
``Our guys, I don't know if they understand everything there is to know about Indiana, in terms of the history,'' Pelphrey said. ``Obviously, growing up in Kentucky, it's right there.''
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - After a long and sometimes disappointing Big Ten season, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is ready for his favorite time of the year.
The annual announcement of the NCAA pairings on Sunday seemed to reinvigorate Izzo, whose fifth-seeded Spartans (25-8) will play Temple on Thursday in a South Regional game in Denver. The survivor will play either No. 4 seed Pittsburgh or Oral Roberts.
``Last night I realized what I enjoy most about this job. It's working in March,'' Izzo said Monday. ``I am probably more excited about this than I've been in a while.
``This team has a chance. I think some guys are learning some lessons. I think it's taken a little longer than I'd like it to. Maybe that's my fault. But I think we'll be ready.''
Michigan State has made it to four Final Fours since 1999, and Izzo ranks fifth among active coaches in NCAA tournament winning percentage with a 24-9 record.
Temple lost 69-62 to Michigan State in its last NCAA appearance in a 2001 Elite Eight game.
MIAMI (AP) - The text messages kept coming for Jack McClinton, encouraging notes sent to the star guard after Miami received its invitation to the NCAA tournament.
``I was just responding, 'Thank you.' 'Thank you,''' he said Monday. ``It was a great feeling.''
The first Miami player to make the all-ACC team hopes to lead the Hurricanes to a win in their first NCAA tournament game since 2002, when they play St. Mary's on Friday in North Little Rock, Ark. McClinton is their top scorer and unquestioned emotional leader.
``His competitive spirit is contagious,'' coach Frank Haith said.
A transfer from Siena who sat out the 2005-06 season, McClinton was part of a Miami team that won just 12 games a year ago and was a preseason pick for last place in the ACC.
The Hurricanes instead started 12-0, finished 8-8 in the league and are seeded seventh in the South Region, where they hope to win their fourth NCAA tournament game in school history.
``Miami's not known as a basketball school. It's a football school,'' McClinton said. ``When we started out 12-0, people were like, 'Maybe Miami's for real.'''
AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Little Rock, Ark., and Associated Press Writers Tim Martin in East Lansing, Mich., Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Wash., and Sarah Larimer in Miami contributed to this report.