Coaches brush off long-ago dispute ahead of East Regional final Print
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Friday, 28 March 2008 14:04
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 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Roy Williams was upset that Rick Pitino was still using a full-court press in a blowout. Pitino then got angry at Williams for adding to the lead.
Eventually, Pitino got called for two technical fouls and the coaches exchanged angry words.
The strange events from that Kansas-Kentucky game during the 1989-90 season were revisited Friday, a day before Williams and North Carolina faced Pitino and Louisville in the East Regional final.
``Roy is a good guy. There are no ill feelings,'' Pitino said.
There were ill feeling at the time. On Dec. 9, 1989, undermanned Kentucky visited Kansas in Williams' second season with the Jayhawks. Kansas took control early and Pitino used all his timeouts in the first half to no avail.
Williams cleared his bench in the second half, but Pitino was still pressing. Kansas continued to pour it on in the 150-95 win.
``Rick and I talked about that. It was some unfortunate things and probably my fault more than anybody's,'' Williams said. ``We've had some discussions many years ago about that and put it behind us. We've played golf together. ... I have zero - zero - problems with Rick. The only thing I have for Rick is a great deal of respect and I mean that sincerely.''
The winning coach Saturday will reach his sixth Final Four, moving into a tie for fourth all-time with Denny Crum and Adolph Rupp.
Williams insists that game more than 18 years ago won't be in his mind Saturday, although he still remembers when Kansas visited Kentucky a year later.
``It was the only time I've ever been booed by 24,000 people in harmony,'' Williams said. ``But as many games as Rick and I have coached, it's way, way down the list right now.''
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GLAD HE CAME: Win or lose, the trip to Detroit for the Midwest Regional was more than worth it for Alex Lazaridis.
The 19-year-old Davidson sophomore was one of the hundreds of students who took advantage of the North Carolina college's offer of free transportation, a place to stay and a ticket to see the men's basketball team continue its run in the NCAA tournament at Ford Field in Detroit.
``This is amazing,'' Lazaridis said Friday, looking at the sea of fans clad in Wildcats red populating one side of the lower portion of the converted football stadium.
``Davidson wasn't as well known before this'' on a national scale, the economics major said. ``This will make a big difference.''
Two days earlier, Davidson's trustees made the pledge to offer any student a bus ride, two nights' lodging and a ticket to see Davidson play Wisconsin in Detroit, 650 miles to the north.
Lazaridis said many students on his bus made it through the 11-hour ride by yelling out cheers, watching movies and napping. The caravan stopped for lunch in Ohio, he said.
Davidson is an academically rigorous private school with about 1,700 students located 20 miles north of Charlotte. It was making its first round of 16 appearance in nearly four decades.
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PADGETT VS. WILLIAMS: When North Carolina coach Roy Williams thinks back to what he did to Louisville center David Padgett, he feels ``dirty.''
Padgett was one of the top prospects in the nation when he signed with Kansas to play for Williams. But Williams left the Jayhawks for the North Carolina job in 2003 without ever coaching Padgett.
``I could understand if he felt betrayed by me,'' Williams said.
Padgett spent one season at Kansas under new coach Bill Self, but the two didn't click, and Padgett transferred.
``I went there to play for coach Williams and it just didn't work out,'' Padgett said.
After that, Padgett had a choice: He could go to North Carolina and play for Williams, or go to Louisville and play for Pitino, who also heavily recruited him out of high school.
He decided on the Cardinals, and has worked his way into an all-Big East performer in his senior season.
``I was just really impressed with him not only as a coach, but a person,'' Padgett said of Pitino. ``The success that he's had with all of his former players at Kentucky and in the NBA. I turned down the opportunity to play for him in high school and I couldn't do it again. So I jumped on it.''
Williams, while disappointed, thinks Padgett made the right choice.
``I think David made a great decision because he decided to break away from the Kansas-North Carolina confusion and start completely new with Louisville,'' Williams said. ``I think it was a great decision. But I did want him.''
Saturday night things come full circle, with Padgett trying to get to the Final Four at the expense of Williams' Tar Heels.
``I've always had a great respect for coach Williams and we've always got along really well,'' Padgett said. ``But he was very understanding of the fact that I wanted to play for coach Pitino.''
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PLAYING ON THE ROAD: Louisville coach Rick Pitino laughed Friday when he was told that North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he doesn't believe the Tar Heels have a big advantage in Saturday's regional final merely because they're playing about two hours from campus.
``Tell Roy to get on a plane for the first time and let's play the game in Freedom Hall if he feels that way,'' said Pitino, alluding to North Carolina getting to play four straight NCAA tournament games in North Carolina.
``I won't disagree with him. Let's go to Freedom Hall. Go to Lexington, for that matter. We did it last year. Let's go to Lexington and play it in Rupp. No, I don't think there's a home-court advantage. I think those are mostly mannequins dressed in powder blue.''
About 75 percent of the fans of Charlotte Bobcats Arena were cheering for North Carolina on Friday night.
``It's going to be an ultimate road game. Everything is really against us,'' Louisville guard Andre McGee said. ``As bad as we want it, we really got to go out there and prove ourselves.''
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TOURNAMENT SIBLINGS: Wisconsin guard Michael Flowers' brother, Jonte, will be playing for the Division II title on Saturday night. Jonte Flowers is a senior at Winona State, which is playing in the D-II title game for a third straight year. The Warriors are playing Augusta State.
 

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