Adjusting to Altitude
Louisville Coach Rick Pitino and Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar have taken different approaches to dealing with Albuquerque's altitude.
The Huskies arrived in New Mexico on Monday in hopes of adjusting to the thinner air in time for tonight's game. Pitino, however, has done nothing differently and referenced Olympic athletes who say there is no true adjustment without staying at altitude for 21 days.
"Everyone is in the same boat," Pitino said of the 5,000-foot elevation. "The only thing that is different is you must hydrate your players more than you would elsewhere."
Romar said the air would be a factor had the team gotten off the plane and immediately played a basketball game.
"We played at Wyoming last year," Romar said, "and you walk in there and there is a sign that says, '7,100 feet above sea level. How is your oxygen?' Right away you see guys start to think. So it's more mental than anything."
West Virginia Coach John Beilein vividly remembers his only encounter with Texas Tech Coach Bob Knight. It occurred in 1998, after Beilein's 14th-seeded Richmond team upset third-seeded South Carolina, 62-61, in the first round of the NCAA tournament at MCI Center.
Knight, whose Indiana team also competed in that sub-regional, said, "Good game, Coach."
"I was just really pleased that he knew I was the coach of Richmond at the time," Beilein said.
Pitino said Washington is the most difficult team he has had to prepare for all season. One reason is that the Huskies possess capable shooters at all five starting positions, unlike Georgia Tech, Louisville's second-round opponent, which only had shooters at two positions.
Louisville has scored in the 50s and in the 100s this season, depending upon how healthy its players are. Pitino said the team's health is somewhere in the middle, which means he would prefer to play in the 70s.
"We have to pick our spots to run," Louisville's Larry O'Bannon said.
Seimone Augustus, a unanimous choice with 225 points, led the Associated Press women's basketball All-America team, which was announced yesterday. She was joined on the first team by Kansas State's Kendra Wecker (192 points), Duke's Monique Currie (180), Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (163) and TCU's Sandora Irvin (153).
Haith Gets Extension
Frank Haith, who coached Miami to 16 wins in his first season, signed a five-year contract. Terms of the new deal weren't released but when Haith was hired last year, he signed a five-year pact worth an estimated $350,000 annually. Miami went 16-13 this season and finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference after being picked to finish last in the 11-team league. . . .
Saint Mary's Coach Randy Bennett plans to meet with Athletic Director Carl Clapp soon to work out a contract extension. Bennett led the Gaels to their first NCAA tournament berth since 1997, losing to Southern Illinois, 65-56, in the first round last Friday in Oklahoma City. Bennett made about $130,000 this season, one of the lowest salaries among West Coast Conference coaches. Saint Mary's would "redo the whole deal," Bennett said.