NCAA BK

BURLISON: Win or lose, Monday will be Jeffries' finale

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Frank Burlison

 
   
 

ATLANTA

Both Maryland senior Juan Dixon and Indiana sophomore Jared Jeffries are capable of leading their teams to a national championship Monday night in the Georgia Dome. And that would be a heck of a college swan song — for either of them. Even Hoosiers' coach Mike Davis believes he is almost assuredly going to be watching Jeffries' final game in an IU uniform Monday against the Terrapins. "I don't think (there is any way) he's coming back next year," Davis said. "But, hey, he's in the Final Four, he's in the championship game. That's a decision he has to make with me rather than with his parents." The 6-foot-9 Jeffries told fellow counselors at the Nike All-America Camp July in Indianapolis that he planned to turn pro this season. He's given the standard "I'll evaluate the situation after the season" responses of late when asked about the subject. But if being all but certain that he will be a lottery (top 13) selection in this June's draft is what it's going to take for him to pass on his final two seasons of college eligibility, be prepared to see him sitting in the green room during the telecast of the draft. NBA talent evaluators love the guy, even if he could use more than just a few well-placed pounds added to his rather slender (his listed weight of 220 pounds seems a bit generous) frame before doing battle with any NBA behemoths. He's liable to be matched much of Monday night's game against another sophomore who could be ready to bid farewell to the college life, no matter how grand it might be to attend classes and hang out in the quad wearing a big ol' national championship ring. When asked Saturday night about his super sophomore, Chris Wilcox, Maryland coach Gary Williams drew some assorted laughs during his postgame press conference. "Well, Chris is going to be a great junior next year for us," he said. He will be — if he's wearing a Maryland uniform this time next season. But most NBA personnel directors already had him pegged for lotto land before his eye-popping performance Saturday night against Drew Gooden and Kansas. You can assume his stock is climbing — rapidly.

Picks are the pits

In the preview/analysis of Monday night's game, . And that should be cause for celebration for the Indiana Hoosiers and everyone who'll be rooting like heck for them Monday in the Georgia Dome or in front of a television screen. This is the fifth time in Indiana's six tourney games I've picked the Hoosiers' opponent to win. I tell you one thing: If Mike Davis' team win the national title, I want to get invited to their championship banquet!

Improving the experience

Granted, the experience of getting to play in a Final Four is something that would be burned into an athlete's memory forever — even if he were to go on to a 12-year NBA career and earn a zillion bucks in the process. But the NCAA, with all of the millions it earns courtesy of CBS, should think strongly about enhancing the experience just a tad for the players. Here's a couple of ways how: Right now, each player among the four teams is given six free game tickets. That means that, in most instances, some of the players' blood relatives or close friends will have to scramble to buy their own tickets. C'mon, guys — how about doubling that freebie allotment for each player? I'm not saying just hand them 12 ticket books (for the semifinals and championship game), no questions asked. Each would have to be accounted for, with those using the tickets signing for them at the gate and then entering the building. Second, provide for the transportation and room and board for a party of four for each player. Most likely that would cover parents or guardians and either a sibling (or two or three) and a friend or, perhaps, former high school coach. It would be a heck of a long overdue bit of "thanks" to the athletes that CBS is forking out the money to televise, folks.

Fast facts

Here's a couple of Final Four facts that you can wow the folks in the sports bar with Monday night:
  • Maryland is the first team to reach a championship game having played the highest-possible seed in each round: The Terps, a No. 1 seed, knocked off a No. 16 (Siena) in the opening round, then knocked off a No. 8 (Wisconsin), a No. 4 (Kentucky), a No. 2 (Connecticut) and a fellow No. 1 (Kansas, Saturday night). Indiana is a No. 5 seed. Maryland would have needed either Duke (knocked off in the South Sweet 16 by Indiana) or Cincinnati (eliminated in Round 2 in the West by UCLA) to reach the final to keep that streak going against a No. 1. Well, there's something for someone to shoot for next year ...
  • Indiana teams are 4-0 against their Maryland counterparts (winning in 1933 and '34, in '59 and in '81). I'm sure that knowing that their predecessors were 0-4 against the Hoosiers has Maryland coach Gary Williams' players in a tizzy.

    Bouncing around the country

  • Don¿t look for the University of Washington search for a coach to drag on too much longer. Quin Snyder of Missouri, assumed by most to be UW athletic director Barbara Hedges¿ top choice, announced Sunday night that he had withdrawn his name from consideration for the position. But someone, be it Mark Few (Gonzaga), Lorenzo Romar (Saint Louis), whom she met with in Atlanta Saturday and Sunday, respectively, or any ¿mystery¿ candidate she has on her cell phone¿s speed dial, will be announced as the school¿s new coach before too deep into this week. Friends of Few doubt that he would accept an offer from the Huskies; Romar associates think he could be coaxed into becoming his alma mater¿s coach. What might any ¿mystery¿ candidate do if offered? If any of his friends are reading this, please-mail me and let me know what you think.
  • Long Beach State will introduce Larry Reynolds (formerly of Cal State Bernardino) as its new coach on Monday. Reynolds has been the head coach for four years at the Division II program and formerly was an assistant under John Masi at UC Riverside and Phil Matthews at the University of San Francisco.
  • University of Pacific coach Bob Thomason was apparently contacted by someone gauging his interest in the Oregon State vacancy. Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti and Oklahoma assistant Jim Shaw (who was on the OSU staff in the 1989-91 seasons) are others whose names have been mentioned to me as possible candidates Saturday or Sunday. Shaw did a lot of the recruiting legwork in getting the many outstanding JC transfers to Norman in recent seasons. Senior writer Frank Burlison can be reached at his e-mail address, fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Cincinnati, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Indiana, Duke, Maryland, Long Beach State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas, San Francisco

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