© St. Petersburg Times, published March 30, 2003
SAN ANTONIO -- Much of the talk surrounding the Texas-Michigan State matchup revolves around which team is tougher.
The Longhorns came out of the Big 12, which prides itself on physical play. The Spartans are from the Big Ten and built a reputation for toughness by advancing to the region final in four of the past five seasons and winning the 2000 national title.
"This might be the best rebounding team we've faced all year," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "It should be an old-fashioned fistfight."
"We're looking forward to it," Texas forward Brian Boddicker said.
Izzo toughens up his players with a drill the Spartans call "the War." The coach says he'll consider changing the name because of the war in Iraq.
During the drill, five guys stand around the basket and fight for the ball when it comes down. Although his players talk about getting banged around, Izzo said that, remarkably, no one ever gets hurt. The Spartans endured a series of injuries this season, but none during the drill.
"I think we'd be better off doing 'the War' drill for two hours and the sissy stuff for 10 minutes," Izzo said.
The Longhorns run a similar drill. In true Texas fashion, they call it "Circle the Wagons."
LANSING ARRESTS: Police arrested 17 people during celebrations of Michigan State's victory over Maryland in the South Region semifinals.
Patrol Sgt. Mark VandeWouwer of the East Lansing Police Dept. said disorderly conduct and minor in possession of alcohol charges were issued in arrests. He did not know how many of the 17 were students.
VandeWouwer said a few remained jailed Saturday morning and were being held under a $500 bond.
"We can't release them until they are sober," he said.
LINGERING PAIN: Last season's loss to Indiana in the Final Four still bothers Oklahoma seniors Hollis Price and Quannas White.
"We were so close to getting to that Monday night game and that loss hurt us," Price said. "We didn't play our best basketball, which hurt the most.
"Ever since the loss to Indiana, this is all we've talked about. Last week, Quannas came in my room at 3 a.m. and was like, 'We're so close.' That's something we always talk about."