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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By BRIAN LANDMAN and ANTONYA ENGLISH, Times wires
Published April 3, 2005
ST. LOUIS - Michigan State assistant Doug Wojcik should have been able to put together a detailed scouting report on North Carolina. He was an assistant at UNC under Matt Doherty (2000-03) and helped recruit virtually the entire roster, including Sean May, Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel.
"Coach Wojcik is a great friend," May said Friday. "He's taught me a lot about life, a lot about the game of basketball. He was really that person I went to when I struggled my freshman year in terms of breaking my foot and just dealing with issues on and off the court."
Wojcik joined the Spartans staff in 2003 and is the associate head coach. At least for the time being. He was recently named the coach at Tulsa.
"It will be tough at first, right before tipoff. (When) you look over there, you're going to see him," May said. "Hopefully for all of us, we won't pay too much attention to it. Regardless of the outcome, I'll go over and give him a hug. I'm going to wish him the best of luck in his new job."
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Louisville coach Rick Pitino can't help but think, albeit briefly, just how good his Cardinals might have been had he not lost most of his recruiting class, including point guard Sebastian Telfair (to the NBA) and forward Brian Johnson (to a knee injury).
"How much better could it get being in a Final Four?" Pitino said, adding the chemistry of the team would have been different and, maybe, worse. "We probably appreciate it so much more with the guys we have."
WET AND WILD: The Tar Heels perpetuated a superstitious tradition of their coach, Roy Williams, after their shootaround Saturday. They spit into the Mississippi River.
"In '82, we were in New Orleans," said Williams, then an assistant at UNC. "Somebody down there said, "Hey, Coach, you need to go spit in the Mississippi. It's good luck.' As a coach, you're trying to find anything and everything that you can do. Somebody told me that. I did it."
The Tar Heels beat Houston in the semifinals that night, so Williams spit on the day of the final. The Heels beat Georgetown to win the first title for Dean Smith.
Williams did it twice as coach at Kansas, in the 1993 region in St. Louis (beat Cal and Indiana) and 1993 Final Four in New Orleans (lost to North Carolina in a semifinal).
TRIBUTE: Before the start of the Illinois-Louisville game, the NCAA had a moment of silence for Pope John Paul II, who died earlier Saturday.
HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE: With St. Louis about 180 miles from the campus, up to half of the expected crowd of 46,000 could be rooting for Illinois. An estimated 20,000 Illinois fans attended the Illini's practice Friday.
Illinois is the closest school to reach a Final Four site since Duke made it to the 1994 final in Charlotte, N.C.
"This kind of support means a lot to us," Illini forward Roger Powell said. "We always know (UI fans) are behind us no matter where we play."
The biggest problem for Illinois fans is tickets. The school sold its allotment of 9,000 quickly. So fans are at the mercy of scalpers.
The face value of tickets range from $110-$175. Missouri law forbids resale of any ticket for higher than face value. But several Web sites were selling four-ticket packages for as much as $5,600. What few tickets that could be found near the dome were going for about $600.
DECISION SOON: Florida junior guard Anthony Roberson said he most likely will decide about returning in the next couple of weeks.
"I'm really not listening to anything," said Roberson, who led Florida at 17.5 points per game. "At the end of the day, my decision is going to be what my mind tells me to do."
HALL OF FAME: Big East coaching rivals Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim have been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Calhoun, whose second title with UConn came last season, and Boeheim, who won in 2003 with Syracuse, were notified Thursday. Both won their 700th game this season. The official announcement is Monday and induction Sept.8-10 in Springfield, Mass.