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Thursday, March 20, 2003
Tourney Quickie: Thursday

By Dan Shanoff
Page 2 columnist

12:31 ET
HC/Marquette: The Crusaders came out all wearing matching white headbands. After some early intimidation over Marquette's size, HC is starting to play bigger.

NC St/Cal: It's a colorful look in Oklahoma City, with Cal in gold unis and the Wolfpack in red. The Bears' inside-out has established itself quickly.

12:41 ET
HC/Marquette: Inside game dominated by Holy Cross? No problem for the foul-plagued Golden Eagles, who have turned to spindly PG Travis Diener for scoring punch.

NC St/Cal: Wolfpack is putting all the eggs in the outside-shot basket. But Cal is giving it to them.

Where are the fans? Both arenas -- Indy and Okla. City -- are sparsely filled.

12:51
Gonzaga/Cincy: Have tipped, and Cincy looks a little sluggish. Meanwhile, 'Zaga has burst out with a performance more like their vintage Cinderella years, rather than last year's debacle.

HC/Marquette: 'Quette superstar Dwyane Wade is quiet ... too quiet. But his team's frontcourt is asserting itself a little more. HC star Patrick Whearty looks like a load in the paint.

1:01 ET
HC/Marquette: Dwyane Wade, would-be superstar, continues to struggle offensively. Definitely liking HC's fearlessness inside, even if they aren't winning (yet).

NC St/Cal: Cal's Joe Shipp is a monster. The Wolfpack's balance is also fun to watch.

Gonzaga/Cincy: Somebody nearby just accurately described this game as "high school." What's with the sloppy, fellas?

1:08 ET
HC/Marquette: It's not Marquette's size that's killing HC, it's skinny li'l Travis Diener, who is carrying his weight (light as it is) -- and team star Wade's. HC couldn't buy a basket for about an hour, but it finally just found one.

NC St/Cal: Lookit that: An 8/9 game turning into a good ol' fashioned shoot-out, with both teams moving the ball around and shooting great.

Gonzaga/Cincy: Still a little rag-tag, but at least the crowd's into it.

1:19 ET
HC/Marquette: Halftime. 'Quette by 5. It's Travis Diener's world, and Marquette is just living in it. Pat Whearty (HC's big stud) has been limited in points, but is tough to stop on the boards. And it's the inside game that is keeping HC in it. Ya gotta believe.

NC St/Cal: Halftime. Cal by 3, and led the entire half. NC State's in it thanks to 3s.

Gonzaga/Cincy: Both teams have settled down, and Cincy's playing the Zags even at this point. Balanced scoring for both squads.

1:23 ET
HC/Marquette. NC St/Cal: Halftime. It's the Big Dance, and you'd think there would be some solid arena halftime entertainment, but I'm not seeing anything. No tumblers, no kids in XXL jerseys running relays, nada.

1:34 ET
Gonzaga/Cincy: Play of the day, so far: Gonzaga's Winston Brooks tried to throw an alley-oop to Ronny Turiaf, but instead the lob went in as a 3. About as wacky a thing as we've seen today.

Halftime, Gonzaga up by 8 after a net-rippling 3 to end the half. First halves are for idealists anyway. Second halves are where your picks come to fruition or fizzle.

1:42 ET
NC State's Julius Hodge looks like he could use a big meal. Maybe thick Joe Shipp -- who is scoring against the Wolfpack at will -- can spare a few pounds.

1:51 ET
Somehow, Holy Cross has taken the lead on Marquette. Maybe it's the matching white headbands. HC has ALL the momentum, but with a ton of time left, how to not peak too early?

I take back my "too skinny" joke about Hodge. The entire NC State team is thin -- but long, too. Not long enough to keep Cal from hitting 50 percent of their shots, but still long.

1:57 ET
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard and NBA coaching journeyman Jim Lynam: Separated at birth?

Speaking of coaches, Cincy's Bob Huggins is wearing a shirt with a pattern so ugly, I can't even figure out what it is. At least it's not a mock turtle, I guess. Meanwhile, his team is on track for a first-round exit.

2:00 ET
I like that Holy Cross band. Nothing like "nothing-to-lose" to bring out the Cabbage Patch dance and horizontally striped rugby shirts.

Holy Cross hanging with Marquette might have all the drama, but Cal and NC State is a barn-burner. Offense, offense, offense ...

2:06 ET
The Cincinnati radio color analyst was just tossed from the game. And that's just never a good sign.

2:09 ET
Speaking of band wear, the Cal band is wearing flat straw hats a la "Music Man." Probably think they're pretty clever ... wait, that's the Stanford band.

Into the second-to-last TV timeout, HC is one successful possession from beating Marquette. Do the Crusaders know how to play in the first round of the Tournament or what? (Too bad they always fall short. But maybe this year ...)

2:14 ET
Here's Travis Diener's day in a nutshell: He pulled up for a three, and it back-rimmed. His teammate Joe Chapman got the rebound, found him, and Diener didn't hesitate, shooting again -- this time, canning it.

More band fashion: NC State's band is sporting long-sleeve red T-shirts with jeans.

2:20 ET
NC State just took its first lead of the day, with less than two minutes to go, on a Hodge dunk. Wonder if Cal is feeling a little tickle in its throat after having led all game?

2:31 ET
NC State had a shot to take the lead, but couldn't pull it off. Cal had a layup to win the game at the buzzer, but it was blocked by long arms of the NC State's Scooter Sherrill. And now it's Tourney OT (the best kind of OT, by the way).

Meanwhile, Marquette's Travis Diener must have sold his soul or something, because he's doing it all offensively, including a game-sealing jumper with less than a minute to go, plus a bunch of free throws to keep hard-luck Holy Cross at bay.

2:36 ET
How hard luck is Holy Cross? Two years ago, they barely lose to No. 1 seed Kentucky. Last year, they give No. 2 seed Kansas a scare. Today, they give 3 seed Marquette all they could handle -- making all-world guard Dwyane Wade look awful -- but couldn't contain buck-oh-five Travis Diener, who lit them up for 29.

And that's how the Tourney ball bounces. Meanwhile, Cal and NC State are in OT and Cincy's Bob Huggins got booted from the game ...

2:47 ET
Gonzaga again today with the tournament off-court trend-setting: For bench players late in a close game, there's only one way to sit -- arms locked.

2:55 ET
Want to know the meaning of Tournament clutch? NC State's Scooter Sherrill hit a 3 to take a one-point lead on Cal in OT. Cal rushed back -- no time to think -- and freshman Richard Midgley hit a 3 to win the game (State missed a final shot at the buzzer).

Meanwhile, Gonzaga pulls a "technical upset" over Cincy, but previously tossed Bob Huggins (not to mention his assistant the Bearcats' radio analyst) weren't there to see it.

3:00 ET
If there's a poster kid for the Tournament so far, it's the short skinny guard. Marquette's Travis Diener is the day's high scorer at 29 points, leading his team past feisty Holy Cross. And Cal's freshman Richard Midgley (as small as his name might suggest) hit the huge 3 in OT to lead the Bears past NC State.

The first game of the late-afternoon set (BYU-UConn) has tipped off. Here's hoping it's as exciting as the first group of games.

3:09 ET
Take a deep breath and recover from the early-afternoon games ... rejuvenated? Good, because the four-game late-afternoon set is ramping up. BYU is giving the NCAA the willies (over the bracket snafu) while giving UConn all it can handle. And Missouri and Southern Illinois just tipped off.

3:14 ET
Quin Snyder Hair Watch: Oh, it's slick ... just like you imagine it. This guy is so L.A., if he isn't an archetype of what a UCLA coach should be, I'm not sure what is.

3:19 ET
Southern Illinois sports those extra-large jersey numbers, which is so easy on the TV viewing eyes (particularly after three hours) that all teams should adopt them.

3:25 ET
As long as we're tracking band-wear: Oklahoma's band members are wearing maroon sweater-vests with "Oklahoma" across them. It's like a Jim Tressel appreciation. Meanwhile, Arizona's band is wearing classic horizontal-striped rugby shirts.

3:28 ET
Not sure if any players seemed happier to be in the Salt Lake City arena than Vermont, which has been on a road trip that put the snowballs in hell, literally. Will the team be as happy when Arizona unleashes on them?

3:31 ET
We've officially hit tournament Nirvana: Four games at once (even if two are 1 vs. 16 mismatches). That said, enjoy the 2-0 leads, which both Vermont (over Arizona) and South Carolina State (over Oklahoma) currently enjoy?

3:37 ET
And whoever had "Oklahoma would be scoreless at the first TV timeout" was almost right. (But it took the Sooners nearly five minutes to get their first points.)

3:55 ET
Mizzou clings to a one-point lead at halftime over Southern Illinois. SIU is working the mid-major mojo that Gonzaga had earlier today when they knocked off Cincy.

3:58 ET
And what about those No. 1 seeds? Neither Oklahoma nor Arizona is shooting particularly well, something they can afford to do against teams they can physically overpower -- but a condition they better lose in future rounds.

4:01 ET
The most creative player of the tournament so far is Vermont's David Hehn, a soph from Canada (of all places), who seems to do something fancy every time he touches the ball. Who knew Sarnia, Ontario was such a streetball hotbed?

4:19 ET
The two No. 1 seeds playing have pulled away from their previously pesky No. 16 opponents, but BYU has clawed its way back into a game with UConn. And it's a 12-5 game, so you know where it's going ...

4:47 ET
The NCAA can breathe easy: The BYU bracket-busting snafu is a non-issue now that the Cougars have been eliminated by UConn. On top of that, the tournament is officially oh-for-one on the traditional 12/5 upset. Two more chances tonight, though.

5:01 ET
Despite two 1 vs. 16 blow-outs, the first afternoon is ending on a wild note, with upstart (and '02 Sweet 16'er) Southern Illinois giving Missouri all it can handle.

5:08 ET
While the 16-seeds are limping to a finish against the No. 1 powerhouses, 11-seed Southern Illinois missed a game-winner at the buzzer and lost by a point to Mizzou, which has "bandwagon" written all over it.