Charles Okwandu at practice on Friday (AP)
April 2, 2011
HOUSTON (AP) - So much for VCU and Connecticut being worn out by their heavy workloads.
UConn won five games in five nights to claim the BIG EAST title, while Virginia Commonwealth is the first team to win five games to get to the Final Four. Yet neither has shown any ill effects from playing so many games in such short spans.
"It's all mental," VCU guard Brandon Rozzell said. "If you believe you're tired, you are tired. Also, I don't think we're done winning games."
Besides, it's not as if either team hasn't gotten some downtime.
UConn's run through the BIG EAST tournament was three weeks ago, an eternity in the sports world. The Rams' toughest stretch came two weeks ago, when it won three games in five nights in two different cities. VCU beat Southern California in the "First Four" on Wednesday night, in Dayton, Ohio, then flew to Chicago, arriving in the wee hours of Thursday morning. It then beat Georgetown and Purdue on Friday and Sunday nights.
"When the game starts, leading up to the game, you catch that adrenaline," UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb said. "You don't really feel tired, you don't really feel hurt or anything like that."
Especially now, when there's a national title at stake.
"They talk about us being young kids, got endless energy," said Matt Howard, whose Butler team plays VCU in the first national semifinal Saturday night. "What you've seen with UConn and what we've seen with VCU, it doesn't seem like they're slowing down at all."
CALHOUN'S KIDS: At 68, UConn coach Jim Calhoun is as old as Butler's Brad Stevens and VCU's Shaka Smart combined, more than 30 years older than Kentucky coach John Calipari.
So after hearing Smart had been out on the practice floor diving for a loose ball with his team, Calhoun compared himself to the father in the old TV show "My Three Sons."
"I feel like Fred MacMurray with Shaka being the brilliant and very smart, but cool, fighter," Calhoun said. "Brad hasn't said the wrong word, ever. He's your middle child. Never said a wrong word. I said, 'Brad, lighten up a little bit. I screw up every two minutes. Would you just screw up once?"
"Then we have our problem older child who is also brilliant and a terrific, terrific basketball coach. As Fred MacMurray would say, 'My Three Sons."