Several St. Francis Pa., basketball players were hanging around the Jazz locker room Wednesday night as the Utah players celebrated their victory over the Boston Celtics.
It might be the last celebration they'll experience on their trip out West as the Red Flash have a tough assignment against 8th-ranked Arizona, the No. 2 seed in the West Thursday night.St. Francis and Arizona square off in the nightcap of a full day of NCAA action at the Huntsman Center at approximately 8:30 p.m.
BYU and Virginia meet in the featured contest at 6 p.m. - at least it's the game with the two closest seeds (Nos. 7 and 10) and a local favorite in the Cougars.
Earlier in the day, Seton Hall met Pepperdine and New Mexico State played Creighton.
One Wednesday, all eight teams had an hour to practice on the Huntsman Center floor and a half hour to talk to the press in organized press conferences.
Virginia's Coach Jeff Jones and his players spent much of their time talking about BYU's 7-foot-6 center Shawn Bradley.
"I could talk (to my players) until I was blue in the face and not be able to simulate what Shawn Bradley can do," he said. "We didn't go as far as giving one of our big players a tennis racket to show the players how much of a factor he is going to be. We want to attack. We don't want to concede our inside game. I want to get the ball inside to keep the defense honest. "
Cavalier forward Bryant Stith said, "I think the key against BYU will be to take it straight to Shawn Bradley and try to get him in foul trouble. We can't be in awe of his size."
BYU seemed more concerned about what it will be like playing just 45 miles from home on an arch-rival's home court.
"We really don't know what kind of crowd to expect," said BYU's all-WAC forward Steve Schreiner. "There could be a lot of Ute fans who don't go down to Arizona. I don't know how they're going to react. Hopefully a lot of BYU fans will come up and support us."
Cougar Coach Roger Reid wants his team to feel like it is not playing just another game. He has had his players in a Salt Lake hotel since Tuesday night. "We came up late Tuesday night," said Reid. "We wanted to make sure our players had the experience of being in an NCAA Tournament. We think it's very important. That's what you play the whole season for."
Arizona is doing its best not to overlook St. Francis or at least appear that it isn't.
"Any team is going to concern any other team in a tournament like this," said UA Coach Lute Olson. "We won't take anybody lightly. If there is one thing that concerns me more than anything else, it's the fact that they are a great three-point shooting team."
St. Francis point guard Mike Iuzzolino, who leads the team with a 24.3 scoring average and 53 percent from three-point range, said, "I think they will be taking us lightly somewhat, but Lute Olson is a great coach and I'm sure he'll have his players ready.
St. Francis Coach Jim Baron believes his unheralded team has a chance for an upset. "Even thought they have great height and great strength, I think we have intelligent basketball players. And we're going to continue to get the ball down the floor and try to exploit their weaknesses. It's a 40-minute game and we're going to take it two halves at a time and play our style of basketball."
The winners of Thursday night's game meet Saturday at 12:30, with the winners of the afternoon game playing at 3 p.m.