Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's Unfamiliar Territory Now

By Dan Weber
The Press-Enterprise

The further these Bruins go, the more they realize they're in unfamiliar territory.

Coach Ben Howland said he realized it Friday night at the team's hotel in Berkeley.

"We had a problem with autograph-seekers at midnight knocking on the players' doors," Howland said, and added that Ryan Hollins had someone knocking on his door all night.

Then Howland, with impeccable timing, deadpanned the obvious punch line regarding his 7-foot-1 senior center, who finished as the Oakland Regional's Most Outstanding Player.

"The way he played," Howland said, "I'm going to have someone knocking on his door."

Howland said the two coaches he called for Final Four advice were Memphis' John Calipari, who took a Massachusetts team there, and Jim Harrick, who took the previous UCLA team in 1995.

"Calipari was great," Howland said.

LSU: New 'Most Athletic'

Remember Memphis, the most athletic team in college basketball, according to Howland?

Well, hold that thought. The new "most athletic team in college basketball" is LSU, Howland said.

Now that he's seen some 20 LSU game tapes preparing for Saturday's game, there's no doubt. From Glen "Big Baby" Davis ("He's 6-10 and 310") to the long-armed Tyrus Thomas, Howland is impressed with No. 4 seed LSU (27-8).

Howland Praises Hollins

Howland said that Hollins, with 14 points and nine rebounds, "was the most athletic guy on the floor" in Saturday's game with Memphis.

"I didn't know he said that. ... That's big. Wow, when you think a guy like Rodney Carney was out there ..." Hollins said, referring to the Tigers' All-American.

Said Howland: "Now he'll meet Mr. Thomas Saturday."

Guerrero Sighting

Among the standing room-only crowd at the Hall of Fame room for Tuesday's news conference was Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, a member of the 10-person NCAA Tournament selection committee this year.

Guerrero was accepting congratulations -- for his UCLA team and the tournament field that has produced an interesting first two weeks.

Final Four by the Numbers

LSU is winless in its previous three Final Four appearances, UCLA is 24-4 in its 15. UCLA has won 89 tourney games in its 40 appearances, LSU 23. It's been 11 years since the Bruins last played in the Final Four, and 20 since LSU did. Former coach Dale Brown's 1986 team was the only No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four until George Mason this year. UCLA is 7-0 against LSU, with the teams' previous meeting coming in the 1994-95 season that produced UCLA's last NCAA title.

(reprinted with permission)



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