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News, Notes From NCAA Tournament Sites
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 03/15/2002

March 15, 2002

By The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Stanford trailed Western Kentucky before the game clock even started in their Midwest Regional game.

The eighth-seeded Cardinal were whistled for a technical foul for failing to turn in their lineup card before the 10-minute mark on the clock counting down the time until the start of the game. That's a violation of Rule 3, Section 3, Article 1.

So Western Kentucky was awarded two free throws ahead of the Thursday's tipoff. Patrick Sparks made one, making the score 1-0 before the game officially got under way.

CHICAGO (AP) - Georgia coach Jim Harrick would like to see the NCAA tournament field expanded - by a lot.

He wants 256 teams invited to the tourney, and he wants all the conference tournaments eliminated.

"You could make probably a lot of more money and get the whole United States excited about it," he said. "I really think it's time."

Harrick said conference tournament games are meaningless for schools such as Georgia, which lost in the Southeastern Conference tournament, but still was seeded No. 3. He also cited Ohio State - which won the Big Ten tournament, but was shipped out of its region - as proof conference tournaments don't affect NCAA seedings.

"We as coaches - and I think we're unanimous - we don't like the conference tournaments," he said.

WASHINGTON (AP) - It would easy to assume that Connecticut would be a veteran tournament team with all its recent NCAA success, but the Huskies have only one player - guard Tony Robertson - with experience in the field of 65.

"This is a lot more of what I expected," said sophomore Caron Butler, the co-Big East player of the year. "Last year, going to an NIT, that's not what I expected."

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun credits Butler for this team's improvement through February and March.

"Caron has been incredible in his effort to be a leader for this team," Calhoun said. "He has done a great job of making these kids understand what their predecessors have done in the NCAA tournament."

DALLAS (AP) - Don't count Mississippi State Rick Stansbury as a fan of the "pod" system that lets some NCAA tournament teams play closer to home.

Then again, Stansbury has a reason to be upset. His third-seeded Bulldogs had a much longer trip to Dallas than Texas, the sixth seed, even if it was the closest site from Starkville, Miss.

"I'm absolutely, totally against it because one thing that has been good about the NCAA tournament is parity," Stansbury said. "Everybody has been on neutral courts and neutral situations with their fans. That is what made it special and allowed for upsets.

"I think that they have taken that advantage away from some teams and not just for the lower seeds, but the higher seeds as well. We're a 3 seed and, if it plays out, we're going to play a 6 seed in their backyard."

WASHINGTON (AP) - North Carolina State is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1991.

For senior swingman Anthony Grundy, who leads the Wolfpack in scoring, rebounding and assists, this will be his only shot.

"The opportunity to get this chance has been great," he said. "This has been a special season for us as we've been able to see the program turn around."

For highly recruited freshman Julius Hodge, this could be the first of a few appearances. The New York City native is second in scoring, third in rebounding and first in enthusiasm.

"There is no way anything or anybody can calm Julius once he gets going," sophomore Marcus Melvin said. "When he gets started, we get up, too."

CHICAGO (AP) - Coach Bruce Weber says Southern Illinois deserved to get into the NCAA tournament. Now he wants to prove that other mid-majors did, too.

Weber's Salukis (26-7) received an at-large bid to the tournament despite losing 84-76 to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament title game.

They were one of the few mid-majors that did.

Schools such at Butler and Bowling Green, both of which had seasons similar to Southern Illinois, but lost in their conference tournaments, were shut out of the NCAA tourney in favor of schools from larger conferences with poorer records.

"We're kind of the mid-major darling. Everyone's focusing on us ... especially because Butler didn't get in," Weber said. "Now we've got to back it up. We've got to play great basketball."

DALLAS (AP) - The folks in Queens, N.Y., will surely be watching the Texas-Boston College game Friday night. Basketball fans in Rhode Island might want to tune in, too.

BC forward Uka Agbai and Texas guard Royal Ivey grew up about six blocks away from each other in the New York City borough. They've been playing against each other since junior high.

"He's still mad at me because one time I dunked on him on an alley oop," Agbai said. "He still talks about that every time I see him."

The Rhode Island connection also involves the coaches, the Longhorns' Rick Barnes and the Eagles' Al Skinner. From 1988-94, Barnes was at Providence College while Skinner was at Rhode Island University.

"Those games were very intense, to say the least," Barnes said. "We had a fight one night and players from both teams were suspended. It just so happened my president decided a one-game suspension by the NCAA wasn't enough, so he added two more on for my player. I didn't quite understand that one."

Skinner professed no memory of that fight, or much else from their bygone days.

"That's Rick's thing - he likes bringing that stuff up over and over again," Skinner said, smiling. "To me, that's a whole different place. That's a little state in the Northeast someplace. That's a lifetime ago. He wasn't even a good coach then. He's a much better coach now."

WASHINGTON (AP) - Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan needed someone to play the part of Marcus Hatten as the Badgers prepared for St. John's in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

Ryan didn't have to look far, turning to assistant coach Tony Bennett, a former star at Wisconsin-Green Bay who played for three seasons in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets.

"I told Tony to watch some tapes of Hatten and do what he does," Ryan said, referring to the first-team all-Big East selection, who averaged 19.9 points as the key to the Red Storm's offense. "On Monday, he had 38, Tuesday he had 46 and Wednesday I think he got 50, so we could be in trouble."

Ryan is the third coach in as many years to lead the Badgers into the NCAA tournament.

Dick Bennett, Tony's father, guided Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000. Interim coach Brad Soderberg took over for Bennett four games into last season and took the Badgers to the tournament, where they lost to Georgia State in the first round.

Ryan knows something about national championship, having won four in 15 seasons at Division III Wis.-Platteville.

"We still have the same defensive principles, but we have switched the offense to involve more people," senior forward Charlie Wills said of the parade of coaches.

WASHINGTON (AP) - To call Maryland's opening-round matchup with Siena a road game just isn't fair. The Terrapins had to make a 20-minute trip from campus to the MCI Center for Friday's first-round game.

"We're pretty familiar with this place," Maryland center Lonny Baxter said. "We play here every year in the BB&T Classic and it is only 20 minutes away so you could call this place a second home."

Terrapins guard Juan Dixon said the crowd could make a difference.

"It's an advantage," the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year said. "The MCI Center will be sold out and hopefully we'll play well in front of the home crowd."

Dixon said the 10:10 p.m. starting time won't be a factor.

"We had a couple of 9 o'clock starts but not a 10," he said. "I don't think the guys on our team are calling it a night at 10."

WASHINGTON (AP) - St. John's junior guard Marcus Hatten spent Thursday morning in his native Baltimore at the funeral of his grandmother, Letha Berry, 91.

Several teammates and members of the coaching staff made the trip of about an hour to attend the services of the woman who raised Hatten.

"It was great comfort for me to have my teammates join me with what I was going through," he said.


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