Andre Miller and Jamal Cobbs were teammates at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles four years ago. While Miller was recruited to Utah, Cobbs went to Ventura Community College near L.A before moving to the University of San Francisco. They haven't even spoken since high school, although Miller said he's tried to get in touch with Cobbs.
Thursday night, the two former teammates finally got together on the court and while Cobbs won the numbers battle, Miller's team is the one advancing in the NCAA tournament.Cobbs was one of the few bright spots for the Dons, who had trouble sinking shots against the Utes' tough man-to-man defense. He was about the only offense in the first half when he made 4 of 4 shots including three 3-pointers. Without Cobbs, the Dons shot an anemic 17 percent the first half. In the second half, the Utes paid a little more attention to him, but he still made 2 of 3 to finish with 6 of 7 field goals for 16 points.
Miller finished with eight points, five below his average, but also came up with six assists and three steals and just two turnovers against San Francisco's pressure defense.
"They should have played him more," said Miller, who was impressed with his ex-teammate, who lost his starting job six games ago and came off the bench Thursday night.
And after four years, the two friends were finally going to get together to talk about old times.
"We're about to go hang out," said Miller, directly after the game.
Of the 282 media members covering the NCAA subregionals in Boise, the fewest came to cover the University of San Francisco, Utah's first-round opponent. Just 10 showed up from one of America's largest metropolises to cover the Dons, who were making their first NCAA appearance in 16 years. One San Francisco writer who was disgusted with the Dons' performance suggested they were better in the 1980s when the program was disbanded.
Utah had 28 media folks make the trip to Boise, but no school has as many as the University of Arkansas, which has 48 media types in town.
Cincinnati fans weren't exactly thrilled when they found out they were heading to Boise. After all, it was just a little over two months ago when the Bearcat faithful journeyed to Boise to watch the football team play in the Humanitarian Bowl.
When the crowd got behind Nothern Arizona, a decided underdog and former Big Sky member, one Bearcat cheerleader was overheard to mutter at halftime, "Why don't they like us? We were just up here for the bowl game - and we won, too!"
Before the pairings were announced Cincy coach Bob Huggins had said, "I hope we don't strike a deal to go to Boise," referring to the deal the university made to get invited to the bowl game, which included a home-and-home basketball series with Boise State.
One of his players said, "The only thing wrong (with getting to the NCAAs) was that everybody didn't want to go to Boise."
So after his narrow win over Northern Arizona Thursday, Huggins tried to mend some fences, saying, "I love Boise people. Those weren't Boise people cheering against us. I don't know who those people were," said Huggins, who added, "I hope they cheer for us to upset (No. 10 seed) West Virginia Saturday."
This is Cincinnati's third trip to the West Regionals in the past five years. In 1993, it lost to Wisconsin in the first round at Ogden, and in 1995 it defeated Temple and lost to Connecticut in Salt Lake.
Northern Arizona, which came within a last-second 3-pointer of upsetting Cincinnati Thursday afternoon, has several local connections.
The Lumberjacks' head coach Ben Howland played for Weber State in 1979-80. He also coached under former Utah coach Jerry Pimm for 12 years at Cal Santa Barbara and is good friends with Utah coach Rick Majerus.
Leading NAU scorer Andrew Mavis played at Snow College in Ephraim as did NAU reserve Pat McGrath, who was an all-state player at Granite High. Also point guard Kawika Akina played for Dixie College in St. George last year.