Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Howland mum on plans after UCLA interview

College basketball notebook

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland met with his players Monday but gave no indication whether he was in line to take over at UCLA.

Howland, a Santa Barbara, Calif., native who called UCLA his "dream job" last week, declined to speak with reporters after meeting with his team. Julius Page, a junior guard, said "No comment" as he and several teammates rushed away from the meeting looking glum-faced.

"Given that my family roots are in California and my parents live there, I felt compelled to look at the potential opportunity," Howland said in a statement issued by Pittsburgh.

Marc Boehm, Pitt's interim athletic director, was unhappy UCLA talked to Howland without seeking permission, and issued his own statement emphasizing the university's commitment to Howland.

Howland signed a seven-year contract extension worth $5.9 million last year, but the deal contains a buyout clause.

MICHIGAN STATE: Fans overturned four cars, tipped vending machines and set fires in trash bins after the Spartans lost 85-76 in the NCAA Tournament to Texas on Sunday. Officers in riot gear dispersed the crowd using tear gas. Seven people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, six of them Michigan State students.

Sunday night's disturbances caused about $40,000 in damage to university property, Michigan State police Chief Jim Dunlap said.

WRIGHT STATE: Athletic director Mike Cusack said Ohio State associate head coach Paul Biancardi and Pittsburgh associate head coach Jamie Dixon are the finalists to replace Ed Schilling, who was fired last month after posting a 75-93 record over six years.

PRESEASON NIT: Bob Knight and Texas Tech are set to return to the NIT for the 2003-04 season.

Texas Tech, Connecticut, Georgia Tech and Utah headline the group of teams selected for the preseason NIT. The Red Raiders are in this year's NIT Final Four and play St. John's today. Davidson, Georgia State, Hofstra, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marist, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri-Kansas City, Nevada, St. Francis, Vermont and Yale round out the field.

RATINGS DROP: Overnight ratings for the NCAA Tournament dropped for the second straight weekend, with TV audiences down nearly a fifth from last year. CBS Sports' broadcasts of the games Thursday through Sunday drew an average overnight rating of 6.1, which is down from 7.5 of 2002.

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