'When you can take the pebble from my hand ...'

By Jim Litke

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speaks during a news conference in Boston, Friday, March 23, 2012. Syracuse will play Ohio State in an NCAA tournament East Regional final college basketball game on Saturday.

Elise Amendola, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Welcome back to BracketRacket, your one-stop shopping for all things NCAA on tournament game days. Read fast. Football season is just five short months away.

They dress alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike and yes, each has on occasion lost his mind. That's no coincidence. But doing justice to the relationship between Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino requires time and space we just don't have.

It goes back 25 years to tiny Providence College, where Donovan was a fearless 3-point shooter nicknamed "Billy The Kid" and Pitino was a ferociously ambitious young coach. Then they were practically father and son as assistant and coach at mighty Kentucky through the mid-1990s. Now they're the friendliest of rivals at Florida and Louisville, respectively.

If you want the whole story, read AP national writer Eddie Pells here: (http://yhoo.it/GVRurI).

If you just want to get up to speed, watch 15 seconds or so of the intro from the classic TV show "Kung Fu" beginning here: (http://youtu.be/_iaamkUEF_A?t=35s)

Just like at the 1-minute mark of that clip, we're at that juncture in their relationship where the wise old master (Pitino) opens his palm a second time with the prize still in sight, then tells his student (Donovan), "When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to go."

It could happen tonight.

Pitino is 6-0 in previous head-to-head matchups, but trails 1-2 in national titles. They're dead-even when measured by the respect of their peers. By midnight, only one of them will be headed back to the Final Four.



Speaking of sitcoms, we now join "At Home with the Sindelars" in progress.

There's dad Joey, a former PGA Tour and current Champions Tour pro who was a three-time All-American, NCAA champion and athlete of the year at Ohio State, where he's also a member of the school's Hall of Fame. Then there's son Jamison, who's on the Buckeyes golf team now. And here comes mom, Suzanne, who like the rest of us is wondering why her house always resembles a shrine at this time of year — to Syracuse. AP sportswriter John Kekis investigates ahead of the Buckeyes-Orangemen regional semifinal tonight.

"He cheers for Ohio State," Suzanne told him, "but it's not like Syracuse."

And what's that like?

"He's a sicko," she said. "He's completely sicko. ... "Nobody can call him or talk to him during a Syracuse game. I'll tell you how sick he is: We go to the game in Syracuse and he has to make sure we tape it, and then he watches it again when we get home."

It's even worse when Sindelar is playing golf on the road.

"At tournaments, I've had people come up, going, 'Syracuse is up seven at the half.' And I'm going, 'No! Don't tell me! I've got it recorded,' he recalled. " It really is an addiction for me."

You think?

Being raised in upstate New York set the hook. Living two hours southwest from campus ensures a steady supply. But what really turned Sindelar orange for life was a golf match in the mid-1970s, when he teamed up with then-high school rival and future pro Mike Hulbert and crushed a young Syracuse basketball assistant and golf coach named Jim Boeheim and his partner in a best-ball tournament in Ithaca. Not long after that beating by Hulbert and Sindelar, Boeheim dropped the golf duties and became head basketball coach.

Worked out well for all three of them. No word yet on their fourth.



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