Utah coach Jim Boylen wanted his basketball team’s trip to Miami to be about more than trying to win two games in the NCAA Tournament.
He wanted his players to enjoy the experience. Arriving two days before Friday’s game against Arizona, they visited Coconut Grove, ate at former star quarterback Dan Marino‘s restaurant and enjoyed the view of Biscayne Bay.
“I don’t think you can come down here with the pressure that’s on all the teams and grind your teeth for 48 hours, getting ready to play,” Boylen said.
It’s not as if the Utes didn’t get in their work, but Boylen knew the distractions of being within near shouting distance of South Beach would be too obvious to ignore, so why try?
“I also wanted them to get that ‘Ooh!’ ‘Aah!’ factor of being in a city, being by the water,” Boylen said. “The Salt Lake looks a little different than Biscayne Bay out there.”
• EVERYONE’S A CRITIC — No one’s NCAA Tournament bracket has drawn more scrutiny than President Obama’s. At least two coaches even noticed.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski took a little exception when the president picked rival North Carolina to win the tournament and the Blue Devils to miss the Final Four.
“As much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets,” Coach K said.
Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel wasn’t crazy about hearing Obama tell ESPN the Sooners will get “worn down” because their bench isn’t used much.
“I was hearing that all year back in Oklahoma,” Capel said. “We were trying to win. I’ll let President Obama stick to running the country, and I’ll try to coach my team to the best of my ability.”
Is it any surprise Capel played for Krzyzewski at Duke?
• FEELING BLUE AGAIN — The fallout of another tournament collapse by Brigham Young is being felt.
BYU lost 79-66 to Texas A&M on Thursday, its eighth straight tournament defeat. The Cougars haven’t won a tourney game since 1993.
The loss caused Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson to wonder if the Cougars ever would win one of these games.
“BYU wins a conference tournament one year and loses in the first round,” Monson wrote. “BYU wins multiple regular-season league titles and loses in the first round. BYU is ranked and loses in the first round. BYU changes coaches and loses in the first round. BYU recruits new players and loses in the first round. It’s one eternal first round.”
• LEFT OUT TWICE — San Diego State first was stung by not being invited to the NCAA Tournament. Now the Aztecs, who own a No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament, had to play their second-round game Friday on another court.
Their usual home, Cox Arena, was taken because it’s one of this weekend’s sites for the women’s NCAA Tournament. So San Diego State played Kansas State at the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion — and beat the Wildcats, 70-52.
COMPILED BY MARK ANDERSON LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL