Sunday, March 17, 2002

Tournament notebook

News, tidbits, notes from men's tourney

The Associated Press

        GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida guard Brett Nelson said this season has “left a very bad taste in my mouth” and he will consider going pro instead of staying for his senior season.

        “I don't know what I'm going to do yet,” Nelson said. “I'm going to take the next couple of months and see what happens.”

        Nelson played in Florida's 83-82 double-overtime NCAA Tournament loss to Creighton on Friday despite having a broken cheekbone. He was hurt during practice Tuesday in a fight with teammate LaDarius Halton.

        Nelson shot 4-for-19 and finished with 13 points Friday. Once one of Florida's best shooters, he ended the season shooting 39 percent from the field.

        His draft stock went down as the season went on, and many people thought he would stay another season. The deadline for declaring for the NBA draft is at 11:59p.m. May 12.

        “I'm going to talk to my parents and talk to coaches and stuff like that and see what happens,” Nelson said. “There's no doubt, though, that all of this has left a very bad taste in my mouth.”

        Nelson said his broken cheekbone had nothing to do with his poor shooting against Creighton. He also denied the fight had anything to do with Florida's loss.

        Nelson had a shot to win the game at the end of regulation but missed. Creighton's Terrell Taylor made a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in the second OT to win the game.

        “People blame me for all kinds of stuff around here, whether it's the media or fans or whatever. I'm used to it by now,” he said. “My eye had nothing to do with me missing that shot or that kid hitting a great shot at the end.”


        Shouting “Don't stop, don't shop, till the flag drops,” about 125 NAACP protesters marched to the Bi-Lo Center in Greensboro, S.C., in protest of South Carolina flying the Confederate flag on state property.

        The group has had a tourism boycott against South Carolina since Jan.1, 2000 and maintained its protest after state lawmakers agreed to put the flag on a pole at the Confederate Soldiers' monument six months later.


        CBS' coverage of the 32 first-round games drew ratings 7 percent higher than in 2001. The broadcasts Thursday and Friday averaged a 4.9 overnight rating, up from last year's 4.6 average for the first two days.

        Friday's average overnight rating of 4.9 was up 9 percent from a year ago.

        Overnight ratings measure the 53 largest TV markets in the United States, covering about 65 percent of the country.

        The last two NCAA tournaments finished with the lowest ratings in the 20 years that CBS has televised the event, with the 2 1/2-week average rating of 6.5 last year representing a slight improvement on the 6.4 overall average in 2000.


        Coach Gary Williams called an accidental timeout during the Terrapins' first-round victory over Siena Friday. When Williams raised his hand to his head to call a play in the second half, one of the officials thought the coach was signaling for a 30-second timeout.

        “He called time out,” Williams said, “and as soon as he called it, he did that old double-take look where he knew that I hadn't really called timeout.”

        The official offered Williams a chance to decline the timeout, but Williams took it anyway.

        “The way I looked at it,” Williams said, “three or four of my guys probably didn't see the signal, anyway, so it was probably good that we got the timeout.”

        N.C. STATE:

        With their knack for backdoor plays and 3-pointers, the Wolfpack have been Princeton-like this season. But only a little, point guard Archie Miller said.

        “When they compare you to Princeton, I guess they compare our style of offense,” he said. “But I wouldn't compare the two teams.”

        “Princeton works the clock to get their shots and make their cuts. We use some of those same schemes just to get a little bit of freedom, then we can use our ability to get open in driving lanes. It's similar styles, but the two mentalities are completely opposite.”

        The Wolfpack were totally Princeton in the deliberate, low-scoring first half of Friday's victory over Michigan State, but they ran more and took the ball inside in the second half of their 69-58 victory.

        “They can play three or four different ways,” said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, whose team plays N.C. State on Sunday. “That makes it much more difficult to play any team.”


        The team's starting lineup features four sophomores, including star forward Jarvis Hayes, and one junior. And its first player off the bench is another sophomore — Jonas Hayes, Jarvis' twin brother; both transferred from Western Carolina.

        Bulldogs coach Jim Harrick enjoys dealing with so many second-year players, even if it has been a season of distractions.

        “Sophomores listen and don't have egos. They don't think they're something they're not. They don't think they're going to the NBA. They don't score 20 and go home that night and call their agents,” Harrick said.

        The Bulldogs, seeded third in the East Regional, had plenty to deal with during the season, including the suspensions of Tony Cole and Steve Thomas.

        Still, the Bulldogs earned a share of the SEC East title and at 22-9 are two wins from tying the school record.


        Immediately after Wisconsin's first-round victory over St. John's Friday, coach Bo Ryan said he couldn't even name the starting lineup of his next opponent, Maryland.

        On Saturday, he proudly displayed that he's a quick study.

        “I think we got them now,” Ryan said. “I figure they're going to go with Dixon, Mouton, Blake, Baxter and ...”

        Ryan paused a few seconds, trying to come up the with last name, then continued: “The guy who left two dimes and a nickel on the top of the backboard — Wilcox.”

        Then Ryan added: “Now, the fact that I can name them doesn't mean I can match up with them.”


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