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NCAA Men’s Tournament notebook: Radford’s Greenberg facing Tar Heels now

Oklahoman Published: March 19, 2009
He left for his first head coaching position at Jacksonville State before the Sixers completed a 31-51 campaign. Despite the team’s record, Turgeon and his wife enjoyed their time in Philly.

"Being around a guy that I believed in what he was doing, it just gave me the energy to continue and try and be successful,” Turgeon said. "It was just a great experience.”

Memphis can’t seem to stop talking about its overtime loss to Kansas in last year’s title game — because people won’t stop asking about it.

About the fourth time he was asked whether the loss will be on their minds during today’s game against Cal State-Northridge, senior Robert Dozier rolled his eyes.

"No, it’s absolutely behind us, man,” he said.

Coach John Calipari asked reporters at one point, "Can’t we talk about this game?”

From the Kansas perspective, it was a great comeback victory. From Memphis’ point of view, it was a debacle of a collapse, losing a nine-point lead in the final 2 minutes, 11 seconds.

"My first job was to make sure that no one felt responsible for what happened,” Calipari said. "I didn’t want any player to think a turnover or a missed free throw, a missed shot or foul cost us a national championship. They shouldn’t have to live with that.”

If Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson was nervous about his first NCAA tournament as a head coach, he didn’t show it.

The final practice before the Panthers played Purdue in the opening round Thursday was a low-key affair. Jacobson’s 5-year-old son even donned a jersey and took some shots on the court at Portland’s Rose Garden Arena.

Jacobson had been around for two tournament appearances as an assistant to former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott, but the Panthers didn’t even reach the NIT in his first two seasons as head coach. They weren’t expected to this year, either.

But pushed by an 11-game winning streak that spanned January, the Panthers rolled into the Missouri Valley tournament, where they beat Illinois State to earn the bid.

"This team hasn’t needed a lot from me in the way of motivation or great stories or whatever it might be,” Jacobson said, perhaps explaining the relaxed atmosphere surrounding practice. "I haven’t had to trick these guys into playing hard. And that, I think, is the key.”

Washington and Gonzaga broke off their annual series in 2007, after 43 games and 10 consecutive meetings of cross-state rivals. And it appears dead for a while — Washington sees little to gain by playing home-and-home sets anymore.

They almost certainly won’t play in this NCAA tournament, either, being in separate brackets. Yet the Huskies and Zags can’t avoid each other this week.

They are not only No. 4 seeds playing separate games in Portland, Ore., to, part of the NCAA’s effort to keep top seeds close to home, but they are also sharing the same hotel.

It would be a stare down at the upscale, boutique Benson — if their rooms weren’t separated by five floors of the ornately restored hotel.

"It’s the Huskies and the Zags. Just drive down, sipping a latte,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said before arriving, teasing those who follow both teams.

"It’s great.”



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