|Former president Bush gets front-row seat to see Longhorns|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 30 March 2008 13:03|
He caused a stir at halftime when children near his seat began asking to pose for pictures with him. He mugged for various cameras through most of the break and even posed for a few shots with the University of Texas cheerleaders.
The commotion calmed down when the second half began, but a few children continued to trickle by and ask for autographs.
M University in College Station, about 100 miles from Houston.
THE FUTURE HOST: Ford Field's dress rehearsal for next season's Final Four is drawing mixed reviews from fans.
The debate is about the seating and crowd atmosphere at the monstrous venue in Detroit. The Lions' NFL stadium was transformed into a basketball site for this week's NCAA tournament Midwest Regional, and the same configuration is expected for the 2009 Final Four.
The NCAA has said the new setup will help more students get close to the action and keep prices reasonable for students and other fans attending Final Fours.
Most everything was fine for Mike Goode, a Davidson College employee who made the trip with hundreds of students from the North Carolina college. He had snared one of the temporary, riser seats not too far from the court.
The crowd was announced at a regional record of more than 57,000 in Detroit on Friday night and about 57,500 tickets were sold for Sunday's Davidson-Kansas matchup.
``Getting all the people here is pretty impressive,'' Goode said. ``I understand how that speaks volumes.''
The court was centered near the middle of what be the football fields both Ford Field in Detroit and Reliant Stadium in Houston, site of the South Regional, rather than tucked into one end zone as in previous regionals and Final Fours.
Brandon Childres, a Kansas student, would have preferred the old style. He didn't like his seat, which would have been in a Ford Field end zone for a Lions game.
``It's an awful setup,'' Childres said. ``We thought we were getting awesome seats. But we're 50 yards from the court, and we didn't know that would be the case.''
PRO POSSIBILITIES: Only a sophomore, Davidson star Stephen Curry is already being mentioned as a future.
At 6-foot-3, is he too short to be an NBA shooting guard? At a slender 185 pounds, would his body break down over the course of the physical, demanding schedule?
NBA All-Star LeBron James saw enough this weekend to become convinced Curry could follow in the footsteps of his father, former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry. James still was talking about Curry's performance against Wisconsin on Friday night before his Cavaliers faced the Detroit Pistons.
Asked if Curry was too small to make in the NBA, James said, ``No way.''
``If he can shoot the ball like he does, he can play in this league,'' James said. ``Whatever team picks him is going to get a great shooter.''
SILENCING THE HORNS: How do you quiet down a Texan? Don't give them any reason to start bragging.
That's how Memphis silenced Texas' ``home'' crowd Sunday at the Reliant Stadium, where burnt orange dominated the atmosphere but couldn't muster the kind of noise and momentum needed to carry its team to a win.
Longhorns fans cranked up their trademark ``Texas! Fight!'' cheer 20 minutes before the game and just when it really started rolling through the arena, the Memphis band piped in and drowned them out with their horns.
The Tigers kept the fans out of it by building a big lead and answering every time Texas made what looked like a momentum-swinging play. The Tigers led 39-28 at halftime and while most Texas fans silently sat in their seats, a handful tried to revive the cheer only to be met by silence and indifference.
By the time it was over - Texas fans were heading to the door with 3 minutes left and Memphis leading 71-50 - several Memphis fans were waiving signs that read ``You're In Our House Now.''
A PENNY FOR HIS THOUGHTS: Memphis point guard Derrick Rose has impressed just about everyone in the Tigers' run to the Final Four. Add former Memphis star Anfernee ``Penny'' Hardaway to that list.
Hardaway watched the freshman score 48 points in two games to gain MVP honors in the South Regional this weekend in Houston.
``He's as good as me, easy,'' said Hardaway, a star at the school in 1991-93 when it was known as Memphis State. ``He's athletic. He's strong. He makes it happen for sure.''
Hardaway could be seen standing and cheering in his blue Memphis shirt adorned with the No. 25 he wore in his college career during the Tigers' 85-67 win over Texas on Sunday.
Hardaway, the third overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft and a four-time All-Star, said the Tigers are lucky to have Rose on their side.
``Derrick Rose is great,'' he said. ``He's just a super athlete. A great ballplayer. He controls the game so well on both ends of the floor.''
Hardaway, who plans to attend the Final Four, led Memphis to the round of eight in 1992. He was excited to see the Tigers move on after losing in the regional final the last two years.
``It's huge because it puts you on a bigger level,'' Hardaway said. ``We've been ranked No. 1 this year and finally a lot of teams and a lot of people are starting to give us respect. But you get more respect when you get to the Final Four and have a chance to win it all.''
But he knows things are only going to get more difficult for Memphis.
``You just want to continue to build,'' he said. ``The games are going to get tougher and they have to get tougher.''