Dawgs at NCAAs: Notes

CHARLOTTE – Georgia head coach Mark Fox will be going up against a familiar face on Friday night – and if he wins, he likely would be doing the same on Sunday.

Fox only spent one year at Kansas, in an unpaid, informal capacity following then-coach Roy Williams and his team. But it apparently made an impression on Williams, now the North Carolina head coach.

Williams recalled Thursday getting a letter from Fox asking if he could be a volunteer coach for the 1993-94 coach. Williams said he couldn't, then Fox asked if he could just hang out and observe practice while taking graduate classes in Lawrence.

"I talked to Joe Holliday, my assistant, and Joe said, ‘I wouldn't do that,'" Williams said. "I said, ‘Joe it's a young coach, let's try to help him.' Mark and Joe are great friends too, but they weren't at that time. So I decided to let him.

"Mark came to every practice. He gave me a notebook at the end of the year with his thoughts and ideas and his interpretations of what we tried to do and wanted to do. It was extremely thorough and well-thought out. If I had been a teacher I would've gave him an A+."

Then two months after the season Fox got another job – as a full-time assistant at in-state rival Kansas State.

"It wasn't the smartest thing I'd ever done. Joe said, ‘I told you so.'"

The next season, according to Williams, the Jayhawks ran an inbounds play and dunked it. Williams said he looked down to the Kansas State bench and saw Fox break his clipboard in anger.

"It showed that coaching doesn't matter as much as players," Williams said.. He's a wonderful guy, and we've been wonderful friends for a long time."

Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar also knows Fox well. When Fox was coaching at Nevada, he often recruited the same areas as Romar.

"Mark's a great guy but he's also kind of a no-nonsense guy," Romar said. "You can see that he approaches everything he does with a person," Romar said. "And he's a heck of a coach. He's done really well. He's come up through the ranks. He did a great job at Nevada and here at Georgia you can see he has them playing the right way."

Pearl's status in doubt

The Charlotte Regional could end up being the last hurrah for Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. The Volunteers have a date with the NCAA infractions committee in June, and on the eve of the NCAAs, athletics director Mike Hamilton declined to say whether Pearl would return.

Not surprisingly, Pearl's pregame news conference on Thursday was dominated by questions over his future. He opened the press conference by saying he had opened himself up to the situation and said he would discuss his status with Hamilton when the season over.

"The announcement yesterday publicly came as a bit of a surprise, but if that's where we are, then that's where we're at," Pearl said.

He added later: "I was the one who broke the rules …. And so I put myself in this position."

Thompkins' cover shot

Trey Thompkins is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated – along with a player, coach, cheerleader or mascot from every team in the NCAA tournament.

The shot of Thompkins, which is at the bottom of the cover, has him with his jersey in his mouth.

"I wish they could've picked a different picture," Thompkins said, smiling. "But it's OK, it happens. It's the emotions of the game."

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