Boeheim doesn't want to hear about home-court edge

Syracuse coach discounts playing in Albany, N.Y.

NCAA tournament notebook

March 28, 2003|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

It took Syracuse 2 1/2 hours to bus to Albany, N.Y., for the East Regional, and Pepsi Arena is expected to hold a veritable home-court advantage for the Orangemen. But Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was having none of that.

"We've got the same number of tickets that Auburn got," Boeheim said of tonight's opponent in the East semifinals. "In the NCAA tournament, you've got to play. I don't think it matters at this stage [where you play]. The teams are too good; the officials are too good.

"It is just a slight advantage, if it is an advantage at all."

In the same vein, neither does Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson bemoan the fact his opponent tonight, Butler, will draw the support of a bigger percentage of the impartial fans as 12th-seeded underdogs.

"I don't expect a lot of fans to pull for us," Sampson said. "But a lot of people weren't pulling for us at Texas or Texas Tech. You can only control the things that you can control. I won't spend three minutes worrying about that with our team. I'm more worried about defending [Darnell] Archey, [Brandon] Miller and [Joel] Cornette than I am about the crowd."

Covering their bases

Even with one son playing in the West Regional and another in the East Regional, Joel Cornette Sr. and his wife, Christi, will manage to cover their parental bases this week.

One of the tournament's neatest stories played out last week when the Cornettes drove back and forth from Indianapolis and Birmingham, Ala., - a distance of some eight hours - to watch sons Jordan (Notre Dame) and Joel Jr. (Butler) play twice each in their respective regions. Both teams advanced to the Sweet 16, creating yet another problem of logistics for the parents.

Notre Dame played Arizona last night in Anaheim, Calif., and Butler plays Oklahoma tonight in Albany. Joel Jr. said his father was in Anaheim and would join his mother in Albany for tonight's game.

"My mom and dad have done a great job being there for us throughout the tournament," Cornette said.

Fabulous freshmen

Syracuse has two freshmen (Carmelo Anthony of Towson Catholic and Gerry McNamara) and a sophomore (Hakim Warrick) in its starting lineup, and another freshman (Billy Edelin) who leads the team in scoring in the tournament off the bench.

Boeheim said he expects all of the freshmen to improve next season, although he admitted he's not sure where Anthony's progress will be tracked. It's believed the Baltimore native will leave for the NBA after the tournament.

"I'm not sure how much better Carmelo will be next year," Boeheim said. "But I'd like to find out."

Ellis peeved

Auburn coach Cliff Ellis doesn't want to hear any more about how his Tigers didn't deserve to get an at-large bid in this year's tournament after going 8-8 in the Southeastern Conference. And he used Butler's surprising success as further proof.

"You have two teams on the backside of the bracket who proved [they belong]," Ellis said. "If you're in the Sweet 16, it's settled."

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