Saturday, March 20, 2004

Calhoun could do without matchup

UConn coach will face old friend

The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Jim Calhoun spent years bossing around Dave Leitao.

Today, the Connecticut coach faces his close friend, former player and assistant in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"I hate it," Calhoun said Friday. "He means a great deal to me."

Leitao, in his second year as DePaul coach, isn't happy about it either, describing it as "a cruel, cruel joke."

The second-seeded Huskies (28-6) face the seventh-seeded Blue Demons (22-9) to determine which team advances to the Phoenix Regional.

Connecticut is coming off Thursday's 70-53 win over Vermont, while DePaul needed double-overtime to beat Dayton 76-69.

Calhoun was happy for DePaul's victory, and has closely followed Leitao's progress, referring to him as "family." And that's what hurts.

"He's a special, special guy, and somewhere tonight, I'll forget all of what I just said and get ourselves ready to try to win a basketball game," Calhoun said. "I know that if we go on, I'm going to feel very happy for us, and not good about him because he deserves to have something great happen to him."

Except for two years in the mid-1990s when Leitao was coach at Northeastern, he and Calhoun were together from 1978 to 2002. The relationship began when Leitao played under Calhoun at Northeastern, and then joined his coaching staff there in 1984.

Together, they've been to 12 NCAA Tournaments, including two when Leitao was a player, and were part of Connecticut's national championship team in 1999. "He's like a father to me," Leitao said. He then added with a chuckle: "And it takes a lot to want to punch your father in the stomach. ... When you're close, it doesn't make it easy."

And Leitao is proud when he refers to himself as being the most yelled-at person to have ever played for Calhoun.

For Calhoun, this marks the seventh time he's faced a former assistant, but the first in a tournament game. He's won all six of those previous meetings, including two against Leitao when Leitao coached Northeastern.

"It's not easy emotionally," Calhoun said. "It's hard. What good can come out it? Well, we can go to Phoenix. Life's tough and you've got to keep on marching."

SWEET'S RETURN: Seton Hall's Andre Sweet will face a former coach and roommate when the Pirates play Duke in today's second round. Sweet transferred from Duke in July 2001, leaving the Blue Devils after playing just seven games.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended Sweet indefinitely for academic reasons that season. Sweet averaged 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who went on to win the NCAA championship. Sweet was allowed to practice with the team, but was not allowed to travel or participate in games after the suspension.

Sweet, a New York City native, said he had a great experience at Duke, but that he got homesick.

"I felt the best thing for me was to come back home," he said.

During his time at Duke, Sweet roomed with fellow freshman Chris Duhon, the Blue Devils' starting point guard.

TRAVEL AGENTS AT WORK: As in NCAA basketball, one call can mean the difference between victory and defeat for the travel agents at Short's Travel Management. They've been juggling travel arrangements for 129 college basketball teams - men's and women's - from Orono, Maine, to Stockton, Calif.

Last year, Short's was awarded a multiyear contract to book travel for all NCAA championships, meeting and events. The agency already has handled football playoffs volleyball tournaments and cross-country meets. This is very different.

"We started Sunday night working 24 hours straight," company president David LeCompte told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. "The last couple of nights we've been here since 1 a.m. or so."

By NCAA rule, teams located within 300 miles of their first-round site were assigned charter buses. The remaining 100 teams needed flights.

With first-round accommodations made, the pace has slowed a little. Agents who at first were assigned nine teams each are rotating in 10-hour shifts now.

NCAA TOURNAMENT (Special section)
XU: Musketeers fight back to advance
Patient Sato picks his spots, hits his shots
UC: Bobbitt hits game-winner
Daugherty: Little guy not so little in Tourney
ETSU's Smith plays big
Hicks gets job done as Bearcats' stealth sub
UK: 'Cats pull away in 2nd half to win
Hayes just misses triple-double
Murray St. gets taste of Illini's Big Ten
Cowboys get Sutton's angry halftime message
Wolfpack uses defense to subdue Ragin' Cajuns
Pacific waves goodbye to 5th seed Providence
Maryland sets sights on 'Cuse's sharpshooter
Calhoun could do without matchup
NCAA Tournament at a glance
It's not exactly home, but it's close for the Buckeyes
Tournament chase is all about class
Team by team in the women's field
WNIT: Scoring drought ends MU's season
Victory sends Wilmington to title game

Reds pitcher lost for season
2003 Reds finances may have finished in the black
Inside Reds camp
Lidle in Opening Day hunt
Aching Nixon, Garciaparra out of action for Red Sox

Bengals, Sapp close in on deal
It's official: Keyshawn, Parcells reunited

MND plays nation's top-ranked team for state title
C-J storms into Division I title game
Colonels discover that the 3 is king
Royals win one for the ages
Mason Co. pushed to the 3-OT brink
Prep sports results, schedules

Silver Minister, Bejarano aim to play spoiler

Maruyama moves ahead
Sports digest
Sports this weekend on TV, radio