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Valley Coaches give opinions on men's NCAA tournament

March 11, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

March Madness is here.

"This is the funnest time of the year if you are a basketball fan," Holtville High boys basketball coach Mike Goodsell said. "I'm really looking forward to watching it. It seems to get better and better each year."

Goodsell said it's always fun to get together with friends and draw up brackets and office pools. The secret, he said, is to come up with a couple sleepers who will go far into the tournament and earn more points.

Gonzaga, the No. 6 seed in the West Regional, could be such a sleeper, Goodsell said.

"If Dan Dickau gets hot Gonzaga could surprise a lot of people," he said.

Gonzaga drew a somewhat lower seed than hoped and could face a tough Arizona team in the second round. The Wildcats are seeded third.


"Do you think Gonzaga got screwed?" Calipatria High girls basketball coach Les Boop asked.

Boop isn't so sure Gonzaga will even escape the first round. The Zags open against Wyoming. Boop thinks the Cowboys will be able to stop Gonzaga point guard Dickau.

"And Wyoming has some big people. They are bigger than Gonzaga," Boop said.

So one of Boop's sleepers is Wyoming.

Another sleeper might be the University of Southern California, which drew a No. 4 seed in the South Regional.

"This could be the year they go real far," Goodsell said.

In fact, he added the Pac-10 might place two teams in the Elite Eight.

As for his favorite, Goodsell conceded it's hard to pick one team to win it all because so many factors come into play, including injuries. However, he said Duke, Maryland, Cincinnati and Kansas have excellent shots of making the Final Four, particularly since they drew the No. 1 seed in each of the four regions.

"I really think they are the top four teams in the tournament," he said.

Pressed to pick one team to win it all, Goodsell put in a bid for the Kansas Jayhawks.

"I really think is going to be (coach) Roy Williams' year," he said.

Imperial High boys basketball coach Dave Milan favors another team to win it all n Duke. If someone is going to beat the Duke Blue Devils, he added, "everybody is going to have to execute, play good team defense and make their shots."

Milan thinks Southern Cal and Gonzaga are good sleepers who could go deep into the tournament.

Brawley Union High boys basketball coach Phil Grant shares the opinion of his peers in that he thinks Duke, Maryland, Kansas and Cincinnati will somehow find a way to reach the Final Four. Gonzaga also is his sleeper team.

As for his pick to win it all n "I think Duke probably has the best chance because they have been there before," Grant said.

To beat the Blue Devils, Grant said a team must hope to get the ball inside against Duke's 6-9, 280-pound Carlos Boozer.

"Kansas has the big guys to do it," Grant said. "So does Maryland. And Maryland also beat Duke in the regular season."

Boop is excited about the NCAA Tournament but he differs in who might reach the Final Four. Boop thinks Duke will come out of the South. In the West he believes No. 8 UCLA will upset No. 1 seed Cincinnati. He noted Cincinnati is a one-man team, pinning its hopes on Steve Logan, who Boop said should be the No. 1 player in the country.

"With Cincinnati gone, I think Oklahoma will win the West," Boop said.

In the East, Boop thinks No. 1 Maryland will prevail. And in the Midwest Regional, Boop believes No. 1 Kansas will lose in the Elite 8 to No. 3 Mississippi State.

Boop then thinks Duke will top Oklahoma in the national semifinals and Maryland will get by Mississippi State, setting up an all-ACC showdown for the national championship.

"Third time will be the charm," Boop said, noting he picks Duke to win it all.

As a side note, Boop also thinks another team could have a good run — Texas Tech, coached by his childhood friend Bobby Knight.

Boop said Knight has a week to prepare for Southern Illinois and given that much time he should win. No. 6 Texas Tech should win his second-round game, probably against No. 3 Georgia in a Big East showdown.

"If he gets past the first two rounds look out," Boop said of Knight. And if by some luck Texas Tech reaches the finals n "Do you know he has never lost in the championship game?" Boop asked.

Knight's lost in the semifinals before but never in the title game, winning all three

"This is going to be a pretty good tournament," Grant said.

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