Illinois' Williams not likely to forget Packer's remarks

NCAA notebook

March 22, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

MADISON, Wis. - Ever since CBS analyst Billy Packer made some disparaging remarks about Illinois point guard Frank Williams back in early February, Fighting Illini coach Bill Self has tried to defuse what could make for an interesting sidelight should his team make it to the Final Four.

Packer said that Williams, during an erratic, 19-point performance in a loss at home to Michigan State, "played like a dog."

Asked again about the incident yesterday, Self said, "I know Billy has a job to do, but he stepped out of bounds in doing it. I think Frank in that particular situation could have obviously played better, but to refer to a player as an animal is not really appropriate."

Different Kansas?

Self knows that the Kansas team his Fighting Illini will face in Madison, Wis., should be closer to the Jayhawks who tore apart Stanford than the ones that lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament championship game and then struggled to get by 16th-seeded Holy Cross.

"Our Ohio State loss [in the Big Ten semifinals], in an unfortunate way, really helped us," said Self. "Based on how they played against Stanford, that Oklahoma loss and maybe the Holy Cross game made Kansas more hungry or maybe made them play with something more to prove even what they originally had motive to do. We're a more dangerous team because we lost."

That the Illini, as a No. 1 seed, beat fourth-seeded Kansas in last year's Sweet 16 should have little bearing on tonight's game at the Kohl Center.

Point-guard classic

One of the most anticipated matchups in the Sweet 16 will be between Oregon's Luke Ridnour and Texas freshman T.J. Ford.

"It's a great game when you have point guards who are point guards," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I imagine that Luke Ridnour did for Oregon what T.J. Ford has done for Texas. T.J. could have played anywhere in the country, but he chose to stay close to home. He put a stamp on our program. Luke chose to do the same thing. You're looking at two guys who really enjoy passing the basketball."

Ducks look for edge

Will anybody have a home-court advantage at the Kohl Center?

The Wisconsin fans who are coming to the game on their team's campus might be rooting for Big Ten rival Illinois, but Oregon coach Ernie Kent said that his Ducks have something in common with the Green Bay Packers.

"We're hoping with our school colors being green and yellow, all those Packer fans come out and cheer us," said Kent

Sun staff reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.

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