|Little brother becomes big man on Oklahoma campus|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 27 March 2009 14:34|
``It's not like growing up I had in my mind I was training him to become the greatest college player in America,'' Taylor Griffin said before Friday night's South Regional semifinal against Syracuse. ``But you know it was just, I think a lot has to do with our parents and my dad and his athletic background, basketball background, being a coach.''
It took a little prodding for Taylor to admit that he did do the usual pounding on Blake as the brothers grew up.
``That's how older brothers are. Little brothers, most of the time are playing catch-up until they catch up,'' Taylor said.
CROWD CONTROL: The West Regional semifinals drew 20,101 fans on Thursday - about half of University of Phoenix Stadium's 38,000 basketball capacity.
o move the regional from U.S. Airways Center, which sold out its 18,000-plus seats for the same event last spring.
``This was the largest crowd, I think, to see a college basketball game in the state of Arizona,'' said tournament director Mike Chismar, an Arizona State associate athletic director. ``We were excited about it.''
One factor may have been the field: with Memphis, UConn, Purdue and Missouri advancing to the round of 16, fans had to make a long trip on short notice.
Likewise, Purdue and Memphis fans may already have gone home, but Chismar said he expects a good turnout when top-seeded UConn meets third-seeded Missouri on Saturday afternoon.
``I was out there at the ticket offices today and saw people lined up buying tickets, so I think that's a positive,'' Chismar said.
GOOD BUDDIES: Coaches usually run across each other often during the offseason through the recruiting battles and often become friends. North Carolina's Roy Williams always likes being around Gonzaga's Mark Few after spending time together on a couple of coaches' trips with some poker thrown in.
Williams has even had Few's wife on his team during a golf tournament.
``So over the years in the summer travels seeing him, it was always somebody I enjoyed seeing,'' Williams said.
Four for a second straight year. Few is trying to take Gonzaga to a regional final for the first time since 1999.
Williams usually takes what he calls the oldest posse that anyone has ever had with him to Las Vegas to watch summer games and shoot dice at night. That group includes Williams' high school coach, and Williams said he appreciates how gracious Few always is to his high school coach.
``That's really special to me because that man was and is extremely special to me,'' Williams said.
REMATCH REVENGE?: The last time they met, Villanova had a huge homecourt advantage over Pittsburgh. It was the final college basketball game in Philadelphia's storied Spectrum, and the Wildcats fed off the energy of the home crowd for a 67-57 upset on Jan. 28.
The rematch is set for Saturday night with a berth in the Final Four awaiting the winner.
Both teams have improved in the past two months. And this game will be on a neutral court.
``I'm not going to worry about the first game,'' Pitt's DeJuan Blair, who ran into foul trouble then, said Friday. ``There's always Round 2.''
Villanova's Reggie Redding was born in Philadelphia and led the Wildcats with 18 points in the first meeting.
``That night was an awesome night,'' he said. ``The gym was going crazy. The Spectrum was fun. The fans were amazing.''
ggressive, said one of them, Scottie Reynolds. And that set a tone for the games that followed.
Blair, the Big East's co-player of the year, also learned a lesson from that game: Don't let early foul trouble force you to the bench.
``I can't get in foul trouble for my team to win,'' he said.
Even if he does, at least the Panthers will have more fan support than they did at the Spectrum.
``I almost in a weird way felt sorry for Pitt that night,'' Villanova coach Jay Wright said. ``The crowd that night and that environment had a big effect on the game. That's not going to be here tomorrow.''
PLAYING HURT: Scottie Reynolds played most of his last game with an injured right wrist. It would take a lot more than that to keep Villanova's second-leading scorer out of the game that could send the Wildcats to the Final Four.
They advanced to Saturday night's East Regional final against Pittsburgh with a 77-54 win over Duke on Thursday night. Reynolds led them with 16 points but hurt the wrist early in the first half when he landed on Duke's Jon Scheyer.
Reynolds missed just four minutes in the first half. During the second half warmups, he ``couldn't get the ball to the rim.''
He did score 11 points after intermission, but did it with just 3-for-9 shooting.
Injury or not, Reynolds is determined to play Saturday.
ime,'' he said, rubbing his taped wrist. ``I'm going to be out there, either way.''
HEATING UP: Connecticut guard Craig Austrie came to the desert in a horrible shooting slump - 5-for-35 from the floor, and 2-for-21 from beyond the 3-point arc.
He broke out of it in style in the top-seeded Huskies' 72-60 victory over Purdue in the West Regional semifinals in Glendale, Ariz. Austrie scored a team-high 17 points and went 4-for-6 from the floor and hit all three of his shots from beyond the arc. He also was 6-for-6 from the line.
``Coach (Jim) Calhoun called me in his office and told me he was behind me, he knows I can shoot the ball and he wanted me to keep shooting,'' Austrie said.
On a night UConn shot 44.6 percent from the floor and Purdue hit only 36.4 percent, Austrie had no trouble finding his range in cavernous University of Phoenix Stadium.
``The depth perception was a little off for some guys, but it felt fine for me,'' Austrie said. ``Once I hit the first one and hit the second one, then hit the third one, it was all good.''
MAGIC MAN: When many youngsters wanted to emulate Michael Jordan, Louisville forward Terrence Williams tried to model his game after another NBA great, Magic Johnson.
In fact, Williams took it to the extreme. When he learned what Johnson did to make extra money as a youngster, Williams decided to do the same thing: Cut lawns.
Magic Johnson story was read to me about how he worked, how he had to go around the neighborhood with a lawn mower to earn money, so I started running around my neighborhood with a lawn mower to earn money.''
Apparently, Williams adjusted the price for inflation.
``He was only getting, like, a dollar or something. I had to get at least $15, $20. I was charging more for my business.''
TOURNAMENT CHAMPS: The four teams in Indianapolis - Arizona, Louisville, Kansas and Michigan State - have combined for eight national titles including two since 2000. ... Three of those teams have also won titles in Indy. Louisville won it in 1980 at Market Square Arena, Arizona won it in 1997 and Michigan State in 2000, both at the RCA Dome. Kansas is the defending champ.
They also have combined for 31 Final Four appearances, and one of them will make that collective number grow on Sunday.
Kansas coach Bill Self was impressed when that was brought to his attention.
``I hadn't thought about it like that,'' he said. ``But when you talk about the four teams that are here, the history and tradition of all of them is pretty remarkable.''