Tourney Log: Sweet!

<B>CHICAGO - </B> Whew! I have seen some great Arizona basketball games in my life. I've seen buzzer beaters and blowouts. I've seen gut check performances and seen players come up big. I was in Lawrence for the comeback over Kansas. I was in SLC for Gonzaga and I was on press row for Oklahoma State. This one ranks right up there.

35:00 before the tip
The Cats seemed very focused coming out on the court for warm-ups. They said little and stared straight ahead, but I missed them huddled on the hall. I did see Oklahoma State in the hall and they were jumping up and down yelling "Ok State, Ok State". However, they got quieter as they actually hit the floor.

3:45 before the tip
There is a gentleman in the UA section how HAS to be Salim's dad. I had to do a double take to make sure the younger Stoudamire wasn't sitting four rows up with the families.

2:23 before the tip
The Cats are wearing the red. I'm not sure, but the last time the Wildcats wore red in an NCAA Tournament game was 1995 against Miami-Ohio, but those were the old uniforms. They have never worn these versions of the red unis in a Tourney game. This season they are 7-2 in the red road uniforms.

0:00 before the tip
John Lucas is 5-11 like I am 5-11. I am not convinced he isn't as tall as Nate Robinson.

By the way, Mr. Blackwell likes the OSU uniforms. Not too much orange and a nice font to boot.

19:48 in the first
Cats begin in the man-to-man.

19:20 in the first
Salim nails a three seconds into the Cats' first possession, Lucas answers on the Cowboys' second.

18:35 in the first
Lucas is 2-2 from behind the arc. They have to get out on him, says Mr. Obvious.

17:53 in the first
Adams nails a three, the teams are a combined 3-7 from behind the arc.

16:48 in the first
The Oklahoma State mascot is a cowboy decked out in leather pants, leather chaps and a leather vest. His head is this giant, shiny plastic things that is even bigger than Barry Bonds' giant noggin.

16:03 in the first
Ivan was just referred to as "Rad-In-Know-Vich". Last game it was "Even" instead of Ivan. As long as they keep saying his name after missed baskets no one will care.

15:17 in the first
An Illinois fan behind me is wearing a "Got Head?" t-shirt. Get your head out of the gutter, I am sure he is just a proud Luther Head fan.

14:37 in the first
How many chances can one team get? The Cowboys have been on this possession for bout three minutes. First there is a defensive foul on a scramble for a rebound. Then Ivan lets rebound squirt out of bounds. Oklahoma State follows that with an offensive rebound. The Cats then give them more time with a kicked ball. OSU takes advantage as Bobik drains a three.

12:53 in the first
Potential momentum shift. Stoudamire has two fouls. He got the steal but had trouble gathering the loose ball. A three-on-one was squandered and he picks up a bad foul on a rebound attempt.

12:10 in the first
Cats now have J-Mac, K-Dub and C-Ro in the game. Adams, Salim and Ivan are on the bench. This could be a big stretch if the Cats can hold the lead. They don't need to stretch it, just hold their 10-point lead.

9:52 in the first
Stoudamire returns with the Cats up seven. He needs to avoid the fouls. Washington was in control tonight before Nate Robinson picked up his third first-half foul. Louisville went on a 31-12 run and won easily.

9:20 in the first
How's this for lucky? JamesOn Curry is forced to put up a desperation three because the shot clock is down to one. All the freshman does is put up an off-balanced shot that he banks in.

7:59 in the first
After getting his name right one time, the PA announcer calls Ivan, "Rad-In-Know-Vich" again.

Mr. Blackwell likes Rodney Tention's dark blue tie with a black shirt and black suit.

7:19 in the first
Apparently we just had three fouls in :16, all three on OSU and two by Terrence Crawford.

6:17 in the first
Do you think JamesOn Curry's name looks like a typo? It looks like it was supposed to be Jameson and the "O" was accidentally made bigger. Did they notice the error and just keep it? If he becomes a great pro, will adding an "On" be the trend? RobertOn, CliffOn? JaneOn?

5:23 in the first
OSU is on a 10-3 run and has just tied the game. Salim has been on the bench for most of it and remains on the bench.

5:01 in the first
OSU leads for the first time since the opening two minutes. Two Graham free throws and it is 32-30 in favor of the Cowboys.

3:15 in the first
McFarlin just got away with a full forearm shiver down low. On the ensuing possession Shakur is called for an invisible offensive foul. Salim still sits.

1:24 in the first
Frye is just poked in the eye while trying to hold onto a rebound, an obvious foul. The official calls a timeout to get him looked at and Olson shoots him a look that says "what do you expect?"

0:00 before the second
So at the half I see media ‘celebrities' like Bob Ryan, Mike DeCoucey, Dick ‘Hoops' Weiss and Jim Traber. I was not quite start struck, but I was pretty impressed. It led me to wonder if other professions have people they are overly impressed with. Do inventors say "hey, that's Marco Verdulak, the inventor of the Spazmenotron 5000!" Do waitresses say, "That's Sally Ann Pittsnogle, she once waited on a party of 57, with a sprained ankle and no busser."

18:01 in the second
The Cats shot almost 70% in the first half but have missed their first three free throws and had a lane violation on the fourth.

17:41 in the second
I gotta hand it to the Illini fans. Most of them have stayed to watch this one. It's a credit to them as basketball fans. They realize this should be a good game and they probably want to see who their team is going to play.

16:51 in the second
The Cats have three field goal and all three have come off of nice passes. Stoudamire found Radenovic and Adams down low, while Ivan fired a bullet in the paint to Frye for an easy dunk.

13:54 in the second
Ok State plays the "William Tell Overture". Instead of a guy running out with the flag, the cheerleaders get on the shoulders of the make cheerleaders and do a lasso movement. Essentially they ride the male cheerleaders around the floor.

11:56 in the second
The Cats are getting killed with Stoudamire on the bench. My guess is that, barring injury or two more quick fouls, he does not come out of this game. With Stoudamire on the floor they are killing the Cowboys. Let's hope that continues.

10:23 in the second
The Cats are now 1-5 from the line, with a lane violation in the half. Free throws are critical in the tournament and the Wildcats are too good of foul shooters to shoot so poorly.

6:35 in the second
Joey Graham has scored OSU's last 10 points and 13-of-15. He just nailed back-to-back threes.

4:49 in the second
The PA announcer just said the foul was against Arizona STATE. Even in the Sweet 16 there is no respect.

3:57 in the second
Somehow West Virginia is in the Elite Eight. Three seasons ago they had like six scholarship players and the NCAA investigators sniffing around. You may remember the Bob Huggins issue as well when he apparently took the job, then declined. Then they tried to hire the Bowling Green coach, but he took the job and then resigned two days later.

53.1 in the second
Pastner just followed the players to mid court screaming encouragements following a time out.

13.1 in the second
Joey Graham gets away with dropping a shoulder and puts the Cowboys up by one. My heart is pounding in my chest. If the Cats lose, free throws will be the difference. The normally reliable Cats have missed over half their foul shots this half .

2.8 in the second
Stoudamire drains the go-ahead shot with 2.8 left. There was no doubt he was taking the shot and he made it. How is he a second team All-American? There are not five better players in America.

Jawann McClellan came out of the time-out huddle with his hands folded as if in prayer.

0.0 in the second
BALL GAME! CATS WIN! CATS WIN! CAAAAAAATS WIN! They are going crazy at midcourt. Kirk Walters just scooped up Sports Information Director Richard Page in a bear hug. Julie Brase is behind me snapping photos. Former strength trainer Brad Arnett is also behind me cheering. POSTGAME
With some time to reflect I have to wonder what player in the nation is better than Stoudamire? Who could have done what he just did? With 17,000 people knowing he was going to take the shot, and a double team in his face, he calmly drained a pull-up jumper. To quote Jesus Verdejo: "He's just clutch baby!"

After the game I see Rodney Tention and say "Go scoreless for 27 minutes, then drop 13 in the final four. Just the way you drew it up."

With a huge smirk on his face he replies, "You know it. That's just how we planned it."

In the locker room Kirk Walters is so happy he can hardly contain himself. He's like a little kid at Disney Land. He's also turning into one of the best quotes on the team. Verdejo is happy too, blurting out things at random, only about half you can print. Rodgers seems oddly at peace. Very calm and business like.

Channing is the best P.R. man Stoudamire can have. He praises his hard work and innate skill. He also has the slightest chip on his shoulder as he says "I guess I'm not a soft as people seem to think."

Salim is actually happy, although he repeatedly tells a reporter that he is sick of talking about his "change" in personality. I ask him if playing with Jason Gardner and growing up with Damon made him the clutch player he is today and he affirms that. He calls Jason a "warrior" and says that he was a great teacher. He mentions that he still watches tapes of Damon to this day.

Another reporter asks if this proves if he is a better pure shooter than J.J. Redick and Salim says "he's the better pure shooter. I don't consider myself a shooter, I am a scorer."

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