News Nuggets, 04.04.05
NOTES FROM ECU AND BEYOND...
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Compiled from staff reports
and electronic dispatches
Title game preview: Roy Williams' time has arrived
men come up big as Heels, Illini head to showdown ... Cops
unleash tear gas on disruptive Michigan State fans ...
coach beats out Herrion for Siena job ... Terps assistant
Dickerson named coach at Tulane ... 'P.H.D.' Pitino gets
life in perspective at U of L ...
capture NIT title in thrilling finish ... Coaches pushing
for more distant 3-point arc ...
in place for closed ECU scrimmage ... Texas legislature
maneuvers to reign in BCS ... NIT master Odom leads USC into
title game ...
football on the menu for Pirate fans ... Gamecocks top Terps
to reach NIT title game ... Hawks halt Memphis in NIT
semifinal battle ...
Carolina southpaw takes Conference USA honor ... Beale
Street helps Memphis star cure the blues ...
helps Heels seal the deal over Badgers ... Scintillating
finishes supercharge TV ratings ...
Illini mount monumental rallies to reach Final Four ...
Terrapins dump TCU to win Garden date with South Carolina
... Sunday preview: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin ...
State bite the dust; Heels survive ... Louisville, WVU
rumble for spot in Final Four ... Fires plague Morgantown
after tourney win ... Players nabbed for passing fake
named to powerful USA Basketball panel ... ECU fans to have
rooting interest in NIT semis ... Triangle's Sweet 16 teams
converge at RDU ... Another DUI charge embarrasses
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
ST. LOUIS Keys to Monday night's NCAA
national championship game:
ILLINOIS (37-1) vs. NORTH CAROLINA
Time: 9:21 p.m.
Satellite Radio: Sirius Channel 123
Place: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis
BACKCOURTS: The three-guard system has
been Illinois' strength all season and it will be tested by the Tar Heels.
The point guard matchup of Deron Williams of Illinois and Raymond Felton of
North Carolina should be a classic. Both run the offense and run is the
key word and Williams has become a stalwart on defense, limiting the
opponents' top scorer the last two games.
FRONTCOURTS: North Carolina's Sean May
has been a certain double-double the latter half of the season and Jawad
Williams showed Saturday night that he is over a nagging hip injury that
bothered him since the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Illinois'
frontcourt has been the question mark in a near-perfect season. Roger Powell
Jr. had a big second half on Saturday after sitting with foul trouble in the
first half, and May will be his responsibility on defense.
THE BENCHES: Both teams play eight-man
rotations but North Carolina's is more versatile and 6-foot-9 freshman
Marvin Williams makes for a matchup nightmare, forcing Illinois to either go
to a bigger lineup if he heads inside or try to stay with him with a smaller
player in the open court.
THE COACHES: North Carolina's Roy
Williams is in his third national championship game, having lost in 1991 and
2003 with Kansas. He is 5-0 in tournament games played in St. Louis, having
won regionals here with Kansas in 1993 and 2002. Bruce Weber has the Illini
in their first title game in his second season.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS: Illinois and North
Carolina met in each of the last two seasons, so these upperclassmen have
faced each other. May had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Jawad Williams had 18
points and 12 rebounds, and the Tar Heels held Dee Brown to 3-of-17 shooting
last season in North Carolina's 88-81 victory. In 2002-03, Illinois won
92-65 and the stars were Brian Cook (22 points and eight rebounds) and Sean
Harrington (20 points, all but two on 3-pointers), neither of whom is around
THE SKINNY: Coaches always say big
games come down to matchups and these just don't favor Illinois. North
Carolina has a decided advantage inside while still being able to create
mismatches everywhere but at the point. The Tar Heels will finally give Roy
Williams his first national championship, 88-78.
Cards return to elite status after 4-year climb
ST. LOUIS Moments after Louisville
lost to Illinois in the Final Four, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino assured his
players they had no reason to feel dejected.
``Being disappointed is when you get
knocked out in the first round,'' Pitino said. ``When you go to a Final
Four, if there's any disappointment, then you can't appreciate the game as
Once the sting of Saturday's 72-57 loss
wears off, the Cardinals can reflect on a season that completed a four-year
climb back to national prominence under Pitino.
The Cardinals finished 33-5, matching
the school record for victories set by the 1980 NCAA champions. They were
also the first Louisville team to reach the Final Four since the 1986
``It feels great, man, just to be a
part of it,'' said senior guard Larry O'Bannon. ``The program is definitely
headed in the right direction.''
The Cardinals won 22 of their last 24
games and swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles in
their last year in the league. They'll join the Big East next season and
expectations largely hinge on the suddenly uncertain future of leading
scorer Francisco Garcia.
Pitino started saying last October that
the 6-foot-7 junior swingman would enter the NBA draft after this season.
Garcia also said repeatedly that he was leaving and was honored in
Louisville's final home game with O'Bannon and seniors Ellis Myles and Otis
Garcia, who also led the team in
assists (148), steals (65) and blocks (56), carried the Cardinals in the
NCAA tournament until a dismal 2-for-10 shooting performance against
Pitino said after the game that he and
Garcia have discussed his possible return.
``I said, 'Look, Francisco, you're
going to be a first-round draft choice. Here is what you have to figure out
in this whole equation: In other years, you'd be a lottery pick,''' Pitino
said. ``If he's a 26 pick in the draft, I would recommend coming back. If
he's the 18th pick in the draft, I'd recommend going.''
The Cardinals might miss Myles more
than they would miss Garcia.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound post man was
the team's leading rebounder and undisputed leader, a remarkable
transformation from the immature, out-of-shape kid Pitino was ready to kick
off the team four years ago.
Myles blossomed into a sharp passer
this season and led Louisville in assists during the NCAA tournament. He was
Louisville's best player in the loss to Illinois, scoring 17 points and
grabbing seven rebounds.
But Pitino said Myles' attitude made a
bigger impact than his play.
``There are certain games where I've
said, 'Guys, you continue to play that type of defense and continue to
rebound the ball like that, you're going to lose this one,''' Pitino said.
``He would immediately say, 'We're not losing anything.' And he'd get after
With Myles and talented 6-foot-8
freshman Juan Palacios anchoring Louisville's inside game, O'Bannon and
junior Taquan Dean joined Garcia as consistent perimeter threats. Dean sank
a school record 122 3-pointers this season and O'Bannon shot almost 50
percent from 3-point range in Louisville's last 10 games.
The Cardinals also got vital minutes
off the bench from George, who coped with stress fractures in his right foot
much of the season.
Pitino said he wanted to have
Louisville on the path to elite status by the time his first recruiting
class graduated. He's right on schedule.
``We've had an unbelievable season,''
Pitino said. ``I wanted, in the fourth season, to have a top 10 program.
We're legitimately there. We're where we need to be.''
The departures of Myles, O'Bannon and
George will hardly leave Louisville destitute next season.
Even if Garcia does not return, Dean
and sophomore point guard Brandon Jenkins form an experienced backcourt.
David Padgett, a 6-11 Kansas transfer, and 6-9 Brian Johnson will form a
formidable frontcourt with Palacios.
Dean, the lone senior, is optimistic
the Cardinals can make another deep run in the tournament next year.
``Now, I have to go in with new guys,
but at the same time they'll have the same hunger and fire of the guys who
are leaving,'' Dean said. ``It's time to move on.''
Pitino will also welcome seven new
recruits rated as one of the nation's best classes.
News Nuggets are
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published by ECU, Conference USA and its member
schools; and reports from Associated Press and
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