NEW ORLEANS - For three summers, Kansas forward Nick Collison has called Syracuse's Jim Boeheim "Coach." Boeheim is a longtime member of USA Basketball.
"I give him credit for coming every summer and sticking with it because there can be some tough trips," Collison said Sunday. "I rode with him on a four-hour cab ride in the Dominican Republic."
Boeheim hasn't forgotten.
"We got there at 2 in the morning and there was a little van there for 16 people that had room for about six people in it," he said. "Somehow at 2 in the morning, we found two other cars. Then they told us after we flew all night to get there that we had a 31/2-hour ride to where we were staying. It was quite an experience."
Collison also mentioned a ride with Boeheim in New York with the "craziest cab driver ever."
"I have been through a lot with him in the summer," he said. "He is a good guy, but I'm still going to try to kick his tail (tonight)."
POSTER MATERIAL: Syracuse sophomore forward Hakim Warrick launched himself skyward and remarkably nearly hurdled 6-3 Texas guard Royal Ivey on his way to a thunderous dunk midway through the second half Saturday.
"Hakim is a super-duper athlete; that might be the dunk of the year," Syracuse senior Kueth Duany gushed.
"I saw the replay this morning," said Warrick, who was called for a foul on the play, but the basket counted. "It's one of those things you amaze yourself, you just can't believe you did it.
CONFERENCE PRIDE AT STAKE?: The Jayhawks don't seem to feel they need to uphold their league against Syracuse, a team that has beaten three of KU's Big 12 brethren in the NCAA Tournament - Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas - and another - Missouri - during the regular season.
"I don't really care how other Big 12 teams do," guard Keith Langford said. "I want to win a national championship."
LIGHTS, FIRE, ACTION: During Syracuse's news conference Sunday, a flood light above the dais shorted out and ignited a small fire. Sparks spewed onto the stage below as if fireworks were launched, causing the team's five starters, Boeheim and moderator John Gerdes to scatter. Boeheim took his seat once the sparks died down, but Gerdes paused again as maintenance workers put out the small flame. "You have too much fear," Boeheim said, smiling.
PHOG ALLEN'S SON DIES: Bob Allen, an all-conference player at Kansas in the early 1940s and the son of coach Phog Allen, died Thursday. He was 83. Mr. Allen, who lived in Mission Hills, Kan., was a three-time letterman and a two-time All-Big Six Conference selection.
RATINGS DOWN: Final Four wins by Kansas and Syracuse had overnight TV ratings down from last year's semifinals broadcast.
Kansas' victory over Marquette received a 6.8 overnight rating and a 13 percent share, down 30 percent from the 9.7-19 for last year's Final Four opener in which Indiana beat Oklahoma.
Syracuse's victory over Texas drew an 8.6-14, down 25 percent from the 11.5-20 for last year's Maryland victory over Kansas.
The network said ratings are down about 22 percent for the entire tournament.
DID YOU KNOW?: The past three national title games have been decided by at least 10 points. But the past three finals at the Superdome have been decided by a total of eight (UNC over Georgetown 63-62 in 1982, Indiana over Syracuse 74-73 in 1987 and UNC over Michigan 77-71 in 1993).