Capel, Stevens lead contingent of young coaches in NCAA tournament Print
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Sunday, 23 March 2008 13:51
NCAAB Headline News


 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -When Louisville's Rick Pitino made his first NCAA tournament appearance as a coach, Jeff Capel was 8 years old.
Pitino didn't think that gave him much of an advantage going into Sunday's Oklahoma-Louisville game, however.
``When you're in the business a long time you learn what not to do,'' Pitino said. ``You don't necessarily know any more than any young coach, you just learn what not to do in certain situations. That's just time and experience.''
Accessible and energetic, young coaches made an impact in the tournament and college basketball this year. Three of the seven youngest coaches in Division I basketball earned berths, and the teams of three coaches 35 and younger were still playing Sunday.
Also in Birmingham, 31-year-old Brad Stevens led Butler against Tennessee. And Western Kentucky followed 35-year-old Darrin Horn into a Sunday matchup with San Diego, which the Hilltoppers won to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in 15 years.
Texas-Arlington's Scott Cross, 33, also made the tournament, losing in the first round.
Capel is hip. He listens to Jay-Z and shares other common interests with his players. Stevens is always accessible, just a text message away no matter how late it is.
The players on both teams think age makes a difference in relationships with their coaches.
``It makes it a lot easier to relate to him because he knows how it was when he was a player,'' Oklahoma's David Godbold said of Capel, a former Duke star. ``So he can give us more in-game experience, what he went through, ups and downs, how we should feel after a loss or a win, what we should do better.''
Capel says he makes sure he's always accessible to his players. He doesn't keep office hours or require them to make appointments for a chat.
``I like a lot of the same things our guys like. Does it help? I don't know,'' Capel said. ``I don't think it hurts. I do think there is a line that I draw with them where they have to understand that I am their coach. But I do want to be a friend to them. I do want to be someone who they feel comfortable talking with about anything.''
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PICKING ON PEARL: Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl spent a few minutes watching Louisville play Oklahoma before leaving the arena Sunday.
As he left the court with Louisville up 37-18 with 4:15 left in the first half, a row of Cardinals fans started pointing at one of college basketball's most affable coaches and shouting: ``You better be scared! You better be scared!''
Pearl turned, smiled and shouted back: ``I better be scared? You better be scared!''
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MAKING A POINT: Bruce Pearl opened a Pandora's Box of questions when he decided to switch up Tennessee's point guard rotation on the eve of the NCAA tournament.
After J.P. Prince, Ramar Smith and Jordan Howell finished with six assists against eight turnovers in the Vols' 76-71 overtime win against Butler on Sunday, the questions kept coming.
``I just thought the point guard play we were getting wasn't going to win us a national championship,'' Pearl said.
Prince, who usually plays small forward, had six of those turnovers, including two at the end of regulation that allowed Butler to tie the score. Smith, however, hit a key basket late.
Pearl switched from Prince to Smith in the overtime because of Smith's experience, but it appears Prince will remain in the rotation and now has three days of practice to try to master the position.
``I was able to do some things differently on offense,'' Pearl said. ``I was able to do some things Butler hadn't seen. It was fun, actually.''
 

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