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NCAA notebook: WVU, Duke talk gets 'slappy'

By Jack Bogaczyk

INDIANAPOLIS -- On the eve of the NCAA Final four, there was more than a bit of "slap-happy" discussion.

At the media sessions Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium, players from West Virginia and Duke -- they will meet Saturday in the national semifinal nightcap -- were asked about the Mountaineers' NCAA Tournament win over the Blue Devils in 2008 in Washington, D.C.

In that game, WVU players mocked Duke's tradition of slapping the floor. So, there was some wondering in the media corps about whether the Mountaineers - in particular point guard Joe Mazzulla - would do that again.

"Depends on how the game goes," a smiling Mazzulla said.

He explained why he did it, too.

"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," the WVU junior said. "You don't think you get a chance to play Duke that many times in your career. They obviously are a team with such great history and tradition.

"You get caught up in the emotions. It was more a spur-of-the-moment type thing."

After the victory, WVU's players expressed disbelief when told Duke had eight McDonald's high school All-Americans on its roster. Quoted most notably was forward Cam Thoroughman, who asked if Duke guard Greg Paulus was one of the eight. When told Paulus was, Thoroughman replied, "Oh, my God. Are you kidding me?"

Thoroughman was asked about it Friday. 

"I didn't think there was any media left in the locker room," he said. "I said that to one of the guys and someone wrote that. It is what it is."

Thoroughman admitted he'd probably given Duke bulletin board material, but doubted it'd matter tomorrow.

"It doesn't mean anything," he said. "It was kind of taken out of context a little bit. It was just a joke. You have to understand, our team really likes to joke around about everything. We'd make fun of Da'Sean (Butler) the same way. He's an All-American, too."

Duke All-American Jon Scheyer also was asked about some of the Mountaineer comments that disrespected Duke and Mazzulla's floor-slapping. The Blue Devil senior guard said history is history.

"I definitely remember the game," Scheyer said. "You do remember parts of what people say. But for us, we know we were a different team, first of all, and they were a different team. They had a lot of different guys.

"For us, we're really not using that as a payback-type thing, using that too much.

For us, of course we want to beat a team that knocked us out, you know, two years ago. Who wouldn't? That's our approach.

"No, it doesn't bother me. You know, people are going to say what they say. For the most part, I think our team not paying too much attention to the things they said afterwards."

*        *        *

West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins, in his and WVU's second Final Four in history, was asked "how long do you have to win to be a Kentucky or a Duke - the mountaineers' last two opponents.

Predictably, the Mountaineer coach and alumnus was direct in his assessment.

"I think when you sustain it like they have," Huggins said. "I mean, Mike (Krzyzewski) has been to 11 Final Fours.

"He's probably, I would guess, the most successful coach in the history of the NCAA Tournament in terms of longevity, keeping things going. I mean, you can't be considered one of the them until you really are one of them.

"I think Izz (Michigan State's Tom Izzo) is starting to approach that ... six (Final Fours) in 12 years. When I think you do that, then you are one of the elite programs in the country."

*        *       *

The Final Four trip will enrich West Virginia University's athletic program through more than the massive dose of media exposure.

The Big East Conference revenue sharing guidelines provide $250,000 to each conference men's basketball team that plays an NCAA Tournament game before the Final Four.

Big East spokesman John Paquette said the conference will send WVU $1 million for its four games to date in the 2010 NCAA Tournament run before the end of this fiscal year. The Big East provides no additional funds based on Final Four performance.

Through the NCAA basketball fund, based on a rolling, six-year format, the Big East will receive $23,109,436 for its NCAA Tournament performance from 2004-09. That's 104 "units" at $22,206 apiece.

The Big East earned 16 units this year (one for each tournament appearance) to replace the 16 from 2004 for rollover next year.

Although the NCAA pays its 2004-09 unit share in April 2010, Paquette said the conference policy is to present funds through the Big East plan in the same year the money is earned.

*       *        *

The 2010 Final Four has been dubbed as the one without "stars." Well, in a way, that's still to be proven.

However, since the NCAA field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (now 65 teams), no Final Four has failed to have at least one player selected in the top 14 of the next NBA Draft.

And there's been no Final Four without at least two players chosen in the top 14 in any subsequent drafts.

In that regard, Huggins was asked Friday about there being no "one-and-done" players in the Final Four this time.

"Well, it's that way this year because we beat Kentucky (in the East Regional final)," huggins said. "If we hadn't beaten Kentucky, that wouldn't be a story.

"In all honesty, I've said this before, the longer a person spends on a college campus, certainly the more prepared he's going to be for the rest of his life."

The highest projected picks in the 2010 NBA Draft in this Final four are WVU sophomore Devin Ebanks and senior Da'Sean Butler, in order, both considered in the 15-25 selection range.

*        *       *

The capacity of the massive Lucas Oil Stadium is listed at 71,300. If the NFL Colts stadium is filled -- and no standing room is sold -- Saturday's crowd will not set an NCAA Tournament record.

That belongs to Ford Field in Detroit for last year's North Carolina-Michigan State championship game, at 72,922.

However, a crowd of 71,300 - or more than five times a full house at the WVU Coliseum -- would easily be the largest gathering to watch a Mountaineer basketball game.

That record is 29,077 in the Carrier Dome, for Syracuse's 72-64 win over WVU on Jan. 22, 2005.

*        *       *

Saturday's game will be the latest on the calendar in WVU history, and the first one in April.

The Mountaineers' latest game in a season came three years ago, a 78-73 victory over Clemson at Madison Square Garden for the 2007 NIT championship - Coach John Beilein's final game as the West Virginia coach before he took the Michigan job.

*        *        *

This Final Four maybe should be on GPS rather than CBS.

The four teams, led by Butler playing its in hometown, only average a 313-mile distance from Lucas Oil Stadium. That's the shortest average distance traveled since the NCAA field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Butler's campus is 5.9 miles from the NFL Colts' home, while Michigan State is 259 miles, WVU 380 and Duke 606. That combination easily beat the 2005 Final Four average of 433 miles (Illinois 178, Louisville 263, Michigan State 492 and North Carolina 797).

Since 1985, Butler's 6-mile trip is the closest for a Final Four team. Kansas trekked 41 miles to Kansas City, Mo., in 1988, while Michigan State went 89 miles from Lansing to Detroit last year.

Both Final Fours in which West Virginia has played have had a "home" team. Louisville was in the 1959 Final Four at Freedom Hall when WVU fell to California in the title game, and Butler is in the national semifinals this time.

A team has played in a Final Four in its home city only seven times - NYU (1945) and CCNY (1947 and '50) in New York; Louisville in '59; UCLA (1968 and '72) in Los Angeles and Butler in 2010.

*       *       *

Since having a record three teams in the 1985 Final Four and Syracuse and Providence in the 1987 national semifinals, the Big East has had only nine Final Four teams in the last 23 NCAA Tournaments.

West Virginia, this time, follows Connecticut and Villanova last year, Georgetown in 2007, Syracuse and UConn as back-to-back titlists in 2003 and '04, respectively, the Huskies' 1999 title team, the Orange runner-up squad in '96 and Seton Hall's runner-up team in 1989.

From 1988-2010, Duke has been in the Final Four 10 times all by itself.

Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at jackb@dailymail.com">jackb@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.


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