TUCSON, Ariz. Besides practicing, coaches and players at the NCAA Tournament spend time on the day between games answering questions from the media.
Most of the questions at Oklahoma's press conference Friday centered on one subject Utah center Andrew Bogut.
Coach Kelvin Sampson and Sooner players Kevin Bookout and Johnny Gilbert spoke extensively about the Ute big man, and at one point when someone asked about one of his players, Sampson joked, "You mean we've got players, too?"
But Sampson went on several long tangents about the Ute center, who could end up as the national player of the year.
"He's a freak," Sampson said. "I remember coaching a United States Junior World team against Australia. They always had kids like him but they were only 6-7 or 6-8. The difference is he plays like he's 6-7 or 6-8, but he's 7-foot with a 7-5 wingspan."
Sampson also gushed about Bogut's passing, saying, "He's not only a great passer, but he's a fun passer. He throws some of the doggonedest passes I've ever seen. He's fun to watch."
FAMILIARITY: The Utah and Oklahoma teams saw each other up close and personal once already this year at the Great Alaska Shootout over Thanksgiving weekend.
They didn't play each other but have one thing in common both lost to eventual champion Washington.
Utah lost to the Huskies 78-71, while the Sooners lost 96-91. If both teams had won the first round or both had lost, the Utes and Sooners would have played each other back then.
Players and coaches from each team said they really didn't see much of each other in Alaska and have had to rely on film to learn about each other.
Ute forward Bryant Markson can't remember much about Oklahoma in Alaska, but he had a feeling the two teams would play each other.
"I knew we were going to play them this year," he said. "It seemed like every time we'd scout another team, they'd be playing Oklahoma."
COACH'S SON: Like many college coaches over the years, Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson has a son playing for him. Unlike Press Maravich, Al McGuire and Jerry Tarkanian, however, Sampson isn't planning on his son, Kellen, being one of his star players. And neither does Kellen.
The 6-foot-1, 182-pound freshman guard is a walk-on who redshirted a year ago. In high school he wasn't a top player, averaging just 8.5 points and 3.0 assists as a senior.
This season, young Sampson has appeared in 12 games, including Thursday's win over Niagara when he sank a jumper in the final seconds of a 17-point win.
Kellen knows he'll never be more than the guy who comes in for the final minutes of blowout wins, but he's more than happy to be on the Sooners, rather than play for a small-college team. He wants to be a coach someday, just like his dad.
MOVING UP: With at least one more game, Andrew Bogut has a chance to move further up a few Ute lists.
By scoring 24 points Thursday, Bogut moved within one point of Keith Van Horn's 686 point total from the 1995-96 season. With 21 points today, he can pass Van Horn three times and into seventh place on the Ute season scoring list. That's because the consistent Van Horn scored 686 points in '95-96, 694 points in '94-95 and 705 points in '96-97.
REPLAYS: To all the Ute fans who wrote me about the TV replay showing the UTEP player stepping out of bounds late in Thursday's game:
EARLY GAME: Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight made it through his press conference Friday afternoon with no conflicts with the media.
He did have some strong opinions about his team having to play the morning game today at 11:10 after playing the late game Thursday night.
"It's a disservice to the players to do that," he said. "It seems to me that no game should be played before 1 o'clock. I don't know why you can't do that."
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