NCAA Tournament notes: Tickets still remain for SLC games
About 3,000 tickets remained for the second- and third-round games of the NCAA men's basketball tournament at EnergySolutions Arena as of Wednesday afternoon.
According to tournament coordinator Mike Lageschulte, only upper-bowl tickets remain, as the lower bowl is sold out. For tickets, go to http://www.energysolutionsarena.com/ or visit the arena box office at 301 W. South Temple.
On Thursday, Pittsburgh and Wichita State play at 11:40 a.m. Top-seeded Gonzaga faces Southern University at 2:10 p.m.
The second session begins at 5:20 p.m., when Arizona plays Belmont. The New Mexico-Harvard game follows at 7:50 p.m.
The four winners play Saturday in search of berths in the Sweet 16.
The last time
Arizona senior Mark Lyons started his collegiately career at Xavier before moving to Tucson.
In 2010, Xavier came to EnergySolutions for the NCAA Tournament and, in the Sweet 16, played Kansas State.
In a memorable battle, K-State needed double overtime to score a 101-96 victory over the Musketeers.
"I just remember the intensity of the game," Lyons said. "It seems like every shot was a big shot and every possession meant the game. ... It was a great game."
Tweet, tweet, tweet
We're living in a digital age.
So when Pitt senior guard Tray Woodall stepped up to the podium to field questions from the press Wednesday afternoon, he grabbed his placard and asked for a pen.
Once he was done writing, he placed his placard back right where it came from.
But there was one quirk he had written his Twitter account, @TrayWoodall1, in a playful ploy for the press to follow him.
There were laughs from various reporters after Woodall placed the placard back in its appropriate place.
Secret of life?
Gonzaga alumnus John Stockton is careful not to become an overwhelming presence around the program, but he'll offer advice when asked.
"And he's one of those guys that you want to listen to him like he's going to give you the secret of life," said Bulldogs center Kelly Olynyk, "because he is a wealth of knowledge and in five minutes you can learn something you couldn't learn your whole life if you hadn't talked to him."
A brand-new 'do
Carl Hall has been rubbing his head at night, wondering what exactly he did, and why he did it.
The sixth-year Wichita State senior was known as the guy with the hair. The guy with the dreads, whose hair pestered opposing forwards when he shimmied during his post moves.
But he cut it all off.
Prior to the start of Wednesday's press conference, Hall, took out a comb and started combing his now clean-cut 'do.
"I haven't seen this person in five years," he said of the feeling. "I haven't got used to it yet."
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall echoed the thoughts of his senior, saying, "I recruited him with that hair. I've never seen him without that hair."
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said his favorite part of participating in the NCAA Tournament is seeing how his young guys and foreign players deal with all the attention.
He even went as far to say his star 7-foot freshman center Steven Adams, a game-changing defensive player from Rotorua, New Zealand, doesn't quite understand the stage yet.
"Steve Adams has no idea," Dixon said, laughing.
Arizona coach Sean Miller was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 for confronting an official and acting inappropriately toward a staff member after last week's 66-64 loss to UCLA in the conference tournament semifinals.
Asked about the incident at Wednesday's press conference, Miller said, "That was last week. We're in the NCAA Tournament right now. Our focus is on our players and Belmont."
Miller declined to say if he was responsible for paying the fine or if the school would pay it: "Like I said, I'm focusing on Belmont."
The Wildcats play Belmont on Thursday night.
In a statement released after the incident, conference commissioner Larry Scott said, "Even in tense and trying moments following a game, we expect Pac-12 coaches to conduct themselves in a professional manner.
"Our coaches represent their teams, their universities and our conference. We expect them to set an example for our student-athletes and to meet the highest standard of sportsmanship and behavior on and off the court."
Gonzaga is playing in its 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament, a current streak that outlasts those of schools such as Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA and North Carolina. "I have a 13-year-old son [A.J.] whose favorite day in the whole world is Selection Sunday, and it's just not reality," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. "You think about how many people are disappointed. â¦ That, to me, is incredible, what our guys have been able to do all these years."
Each of the eight teams at EnergySolutions Arena is playing its first game in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Yet this is officially the second round of the tournament, because of the First Four games in Dayton, Ohio. Third-round games will be played Saturday.
Big role off the bench
Every team needs a Malcolm Miller.
Southern's shooting guard may be the best player on the Jaguars roster. And yet, he comes off the bench. He did so in junior college and has continued that for Southern. Miller averages 16 points per game, leading the Jaguars in scoring.
"It's never been a problem," Miller said. "I got hurt in the preseason, so I had no choice but to come off the bench. I just wanted to come in, play my role and keep things going."
Greenwood gets Cosmo accolade
Cosmopolitan this week named New Mexico's Hugh Greenwood one of the NCAA Tournament's 25 best-looking players, but Greenwood's coach and teammates aren't so sure he is deserving.
"I don't know who voted on that," coach Steve Alford said. "His mother and father were over for about a five-week span from Australia, so I don't know if there were two votes on that or what."
"I think [forward] Cam [Bairstow] should have got it," guard Kendall Williams joked.
Only center Alex Kirk, who confessed to teasing Greenwood about the distinction, offered any support.
"It's funny," Kirk said, "but I guess he's deserving."
Unconcerned with size
There's no question Harvard will be undersized against New Mexico.
The Crimson starts no player taller than 6-foot-7, which could spell trouble especially against a big Lobos backcourt and 7-foot-center Alex Kirk. But one of Harvard's players said he was not concerned about the size difference.
"We have played big teams all year, like Memphis, Cal, UConn," said Harvard's Christian Webster. "It's something we're used to, so it won't be much to adjust to."
One adjustment the Crimson might want to make: Harvard only beat one of those teams this season, topping Cal 67-62 in late December.
Reporters Steve Luhm, Christopher Kamrani, Aaron Falk and Tony Jones, and columnist Kurt Kragthorpe contributed to this story.