DETROIT Russell Robinson and his Kansas teammates are duly impressed with Davidson shooting star Stephen Curry.
Then again, Russell believes he sees the nation's best guards every time his Jayhawks practice.
"Honestly, I think we have the best backcourt in the country. We can get after it at both ends of the court," he said Saturday. "They're playing really well right now. But I still think we're the best."
Robinson and top-seeded Kansas play Curry and 10th-seeded Davidson in the Midwest Regional final Sunday.
Robinson's second-skin defense helped hold Villanova star Scottie Reynolds to 11 points in Kansas' 72-57 win Friday night. Reynolds was 4-for-13 from the field with four turnovers and no assists.
Meanwhile, Robinson had 15 points and a game-high five assists. He was 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
"In practice he knows what move I want to make before I do it," teammate Jeremy Case said of his fellow senior. "When Russ goes against other players, he studies a lot of film and tries to take their favorite moves away. He's a really strong guy. And he thinks like a coach."
Kansas' Sasha Kaun calls Russell the best defender he's seen.
"He can definitely stop people. And I think he'll do just fine against Curry. He did a phenomenal job against Reynolds. And he has such quick hands, he makes things difficult for other guards," he said.
Robinson knows Curry has scored 103 points in three tournament games, including 77 in the second half. But it could be harder for Curry to launch quick 3s with Robinson staying close.
"Curry and Reynolds are similar players," Robinson said. "Reynolds is great handling the ball and getting his shot. Curry is a lot the same way, but Curry has a better supporting cast. That makes him harder to stop."
Making the cut
Memphis coach John Calipari and Texas coach Rick Barnes go way back as friends. Some 30 years even, to when Barnes was sporting hair long enough to pull into a pony tail.
Or at least that's how Calipari described it.
"Whatever I was doing, I could promise you, it was in style," Barnes said Saturday, a day before the South Regional in Houston.
The two first met when Calipari attended a basketball camp at the University of Pittsburgh where Barnes was a young counselor. Back in those days, Barnes was still trying to break into college coaching, driving his 1959 Volkswagen wherever he needed to go for gig.
"Often times I just had the hand brake, but it got me where I needed to go," Barnes said.
The two coaches now talk every week, Calipari said.
"He's the first guy that talked to me when I was coaching (at Massachusetts) and I said, 'Rick, we stink on defense."'
Barnes asked him what he was doing and Calipari drew up a list of things he tried to emphasize. There were 47 in all.
Barnes took one look at it and his first advice was to drastically trim it back. Find a few areas to excel, Barnes said.
"He said that's all great for a clinic," Calipari said. "So from that point on, we emphasized four or five things defensively that we are going to be good at. And that started with Rick Barnes, and I hope that defense beats him tomorrow."