Writer: George Dohrmann
Post Time: Friday, 1:42 a.m.
Sitting courtside for UCLA-Western Kentucky, I noted that a number of Western Kentucky fans and one overzealous member of the Hilltoppers radio network kept a vocal tally of how many timeouts the Bruins had remaining.
They were befuddled that UCLA coach Ben Howland kept using his timeouts after made baskets and became convinced that he was making a HUGE mistake. "He has only one more!" radio guy shouted in the second half, as if Howland and his staff didn't know what they were doing.
For clarification, and so Xavier fans don't succumb to this annoying temptation on Saturday, here is the skinny: Howland uses timeouts to set his defense and control tempo. He knows this might not leave him any to use late in the game, and frankly, he doesn't seem to care.
Writer: Elizabeth McGarr
Post Time: Friday, 1:38 a.m.
The taunts coming from the Western Kentucky cheering section didn't seem to bother Kevin Love.
One fan in particular had been shouting at the UCLA freshman all game. "I've been in your head this half, Love," the fan yelled as time ran down during the second half (Never mind that Love scored 14 of his team-leading 29 points during the second half.).
The Bruins center made eye contact with the heckler before UCLA wrapped up its 88-78 win, lingering at the Western Kentucky end of the floor. "I figured I'd just let him get his two cents in," Love said in the locker room after the game. "I just look at those types of fans and smile."
And if you're wondering why Love is the only Bruins player sporting predominately powder-blue shoes instead of predominately white shoes with powder-blue toes, it's because he wears a size 19. "These are the only shoes they could get for me that fit," he said with a chuckle.
Writer: Elizabeth McGarr
Post Time: Thursday, 11:31 p.m.
When the Xavier band gave out with the student section's traditional "Father Graham" chant with 1:51 to play in the Musketeers' 79-75 overtime win over West Virginia, the president of the university, Rev. Michael Graham, stood on his seat and began waving a blue towel. "I don't usually [stand on a chair]," he said after the win. "It just seemed like the thing to do. And then somebody said, ‘B.J. [Raymond] hit two three-point shots after that,' so I don't if there's any connection." He laughed, then added, "I kind of doubt it."
Besides Rev. Graham and the two sections representing No. 3 seed Xavier and No. 7 seed West Virginia, the UCLA-heavy crowd at the U.S. Airways Center was decidedly subdued during Game 1. Coming out of the tunnel for the second half, most of the Xavier players bumped fists with a kid hanging over the railing who happened to be wearing a Western Kentucky shirt. Surely after their close call against West Virginia, the Musketeers will be rooting for the Hilltoppers to make a dent in their 21-point halftime deficit to No. 1 seed UCLA.
On the way to the locker room after the win, Xavier forward Derrick Brown shouted, "Elite Eight, baby! Yeah!" before joining his cheering (and dancing) teammates. Down the hall, a teary-eyed Da'Sean Butler, who scored 16 points in 36 minutes for the Mountaineers, received a consolation hug from coach Bob Huggins before pulling his jersey over his face.
Butler was West Virginia's second-leading scorer behind forward Joe Alexander, who finished the night with 18 points after scoring three in the first half. All the spaghetti and grilled chicken Alexander ate to gain weight weren't doing the trick against Xavier forward Jason Love. "My whole summer was spent lifting and eating," says Alexander, who put on 25 pounds in 75 days. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Alexander went 1-4 from the field in the first half against the 6-9, 255-pound Love. During the second half, Alexander shot fifty percent from the field, taking 14 more shots than he did in the first half, most of them mid-range to short-range jumpers. He just didn't make enough of them before he fouled out with 4:30 remaining in overtime.
Writer: Andy Staples
Post time: Thursday, 9:12 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Since CBS has probably switched you to Xavier-West Virginia, you probably missed the moment North Carolina officially crushed Washington State's spirit.
With his team trailing 43-27 and 13:07 remaining, Washington State guard Kyle Weaver drove and tossed up a floater. North Carolina forward Alex Stepheson, who looks like the taller, spring-loaded brother of the "We must protect this house" guy from the Under Armour commercials, elevated and slammed Weaver's shot into the floor.
On Washington State's next possession, Weaver drove the right baseline. A moment after he released another floater, Stepheson swatted the ball into the seats reserved for the Tennessee band. Almost every head on Washington State's bench drooped.
Writer: Andy Staples
Post time: Thursday, 4:51 p.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you’ve never had the pleasure of covering an NCAA tournament, then you probably don’t know about the blue curtains. They are the thin, faux-linen barriers that tell sportswriters where they can and cannot go, and they are the same make, model and size at every subregional/regional/Final Four site in America.
Except at courtside, where nametags tell us where to sit, our movements are governed entirely by the blue curtains. If you see flimsy blue fabric on your left and your right, you are in a permissible area. If you look left and see a blue curtain and look right and see a palate of hot dog buns or a high-major assistant handing an AAU coach a large bag emblazoned with a dollar sign, you are on the wrong side of the blue curtain.
This is especially confusing here in Charlotte, where organizers have designed the ultimate blue-curtain rat maze, a football field-long gauntlet that, alas, didn’t reward us with a giant hunk of Swiss cheese at journey’s end. Most of us got hopelessly lost Wednesday — we’re sportswriters, not aerospace engineers — and in one vain attempt at an exit, I almost wound up on the Tennessee team bus.
I’m convinced NCAA president Myles Brand has a cousin who runs a large blue-curtain factory in some industrial park in suburban Indianapolis. The NCAA forces wannabe regional sites to order these curtains by the ton, so it’s a pretty sweet deal — and probably a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. I’d investigate more, but I’m going to need the next four hours to successfully navigate my way through the blue curtains in time to cover the North Carolina-Washington State game.