Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — So the man does have a pulse.
John Stockton, the former Jazz great, had a reputation for being cool under pressure and for displaying an absence of emotion. That wasn’t much different Thursday during Gonzaga’s 64-58 win over Southern.
He and wife Nada, accompanied by other family members, watched as son David played 29 minutes, getting seven assists and four points. The elder Stockton clapped on occasion from his seat on the ninth row at ESA, but avoided yelling, fist pumping or chest thumping.
After the game, the younger Stockton said due to his familiarity with ESA, “I told (teammates) I basically knew everyone in here.”
However, he said he didn’t think about playing in the arena that made John Stockton famous (or vice versa).
“Not at all," he said. "I’m just here to play basketball; I have just (the) same focus."
After the game, the family made a quick retreat. Asked as he left whether he gets nervous when his son is playing, John Stockton said, “Yeah. Oh, yeah.”
TICKETS AVAILABLE: Although the teams “traveled fairly well,” Utah director of ticket operations David Woodbury said that approximately 3,000 upper bowl tickets remain unsold for Saturday’s doubleheader. Those tickets cost $70 each.
PRESS PASSES: A total of 364 credentials have been issued for the NCAA tourney’s Salt Lake City stop.
“It’s major undertaking. We’ve been planning for this for about a year,” said media coordinator Mike Lageschulte. “The good thing is we have a staff in place that’s done this numerous times.”
This is the 18th time that the University of Utah staff has hosted a portion of the tournament. As such, Lageschulte noted that they’ve developed a successful way to do things over the years.
BACK IN TOWN: Former University of Utah assistant coach Donny Daniels returned to Salt Lake for Gonzaga’s game against Southern. He previously was head coach at Cal State Fullerton and an assistant at UCLA. Daniels has been an assistant to Mark Few for three years at Gonzaga.
Asked if this year was different, because Gonzaga came in with high expectations, he replied, “I think no matter what — before I got here we had lofty expectations — but this year we had 10 guys from last year (and) knew we had a pretty good team. We had depth and no one was injured; we never had the kind of crazy injuries that can set (us) back as a team. But as a team we got better, better, better, more complete, better and that goes with experience.”
POWER CONFERENCE: The Pac-12 made an impressive showing Thursday, winning all three of its NCAA tournament games — including victories by No. 12 seeds California and Oregon. The Bears defeated UNLV, 64-61, and the Bears upended Oklahoma State, 68-65.
After sixth-seeded Arizona advanced with an 81-64 win over Belmont at EnergySolutions Arena, Wildcats coach Sean Miller said it’s because they play in a great conference.
“It’s a statement that all of us who coach in the league were hoping that we can make,” Miller explained. “You get respect by what you do in this tournament.”
No. 6 seed UCLA and No. 10 seed Colorado can make it a clean sweep Friday with victories over Minnesota and Illinois, respectively.
EXTRA STUFF: Miami Heat team president Pat Riley attended the games. He also took time to sign autographs for fans. ... Pitt coach Jamie Dixon declined to comment on his future with the Panthers. There’s a lot of speculation that he could end up elsewhere next season. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind,” he said after his team’s 73-55 loss to Wichita State. ... Attendance at the first session Thursday was 14,176.
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