MEMPHIS -- Beautiful Thursday afternoon in sleepy Memphis, where all the hardcore local fans have skipped town for Glendale, to see the Tigers play Missouri tonight. The open-practice crowd at FedEx Forum was thinner here than it was in Kansas City last week, despite the marquee teams in town. There was, however, strong representation from the church:
That's Father Craig Hightower, from the University Ministry at Gonzaga. He said he's at all of the Zags' home games and 50 percent of the away games, and works with players on an individual basis. Apparently coach Mark Few, whose father is a pastor, and reserve forward Ira Brown, whose father was a pastor, take turns with the holy stuff before games and at halftime. "I stay out of the locker room," Hightower said, "but there's a lot of prayers being said in there, trust me."
Even the freight elevator at FedEx Forum was decked out with a custom sign, which was a nice touch. It smelled much better than the freight elevator at Madison Square Garden during the Big East Tournament, which had the odor of circus dung and stale beer.
If you notice actual, quality photos in the blog, like the one above, know that they weren't taken by me. SI's Bob Rosato was here testing out his gear for the game tomorrow and passed along a few shots. This 'Cuse layup is framed nicely next to the NCAA's ball-in-orbit logo, which made our latest volume of the Style Archive.
I'll leave you with the one bit of real news from Thursday: The fact that Ty Lawson's toe, according to North Carolina coach Roy Williams, is worse than it was before the LSU game. Said Williams, "I went up to [Lawson[ this morning, and said, 'On a scale of one to 10, how was it yesterday?' He said, 'About a six.' [I asked,] 'How is it today?' 'About a six.' I said, 'How was it Saturday before the LSU game?' He said, 'About an eight.' That's not encouraging to me. It's just something that's taking a long, long time to heal."
The toe saga is far from over, folks.