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Pitino Can't Join 'em, So He Picks 'em

March 09, 2001|LARRY STEWART

Guess who is picking the UCLA Bruins to go to the Final Four? It's Rick Pitino.

"UCLA and Maryland--I don't want to call them sleeper picks, but they are two of my Final Four picks," Pitino said Thursday on a CBS conference call with television sportswriters.

And his other two?

"Oh, I don't know," he said. "Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State. . . . But I definitely like UCLA and Maryland."

Billy Packer, also on the call, said he likes Arizona and Maryland, teams that began the season with great expectations. Clark Kellogg picked Stanford to win it all.

Dick Vitale later told The Times he also likes UCLA and Maryland, along with Arizona.

"You look at how those teams have turned it around," he said. "UCLA was 12-6, Arizona 8-5 and Maryland 15-9. This is a year the champion is going to come from out of the pack.

"And tell Steve Lavin that for my awards on, I made him my Pac-10 coach of the year. The job he has done in turning this team around is incredible."

Pitino, who earlier this season talked with UCLA Athletic Director Peter Dalis about possibly coaching at UCLA, now seems headed for Louisville.

"I want to coach, but if there is no job out there for me, broadcasting is something I'd love to do," he said. "Even though I'm a beginner, it would allow me to stay involved in the game I love."

CBS is using Pitino as a game commentator. He'll be paired with play-by-play announcer Tim Brando.

There will be a tournament game Tuesday at 5 p.m. between the 64th- and 65th-seeded teams at Dayton, Ohio. The telecast on CBS' cable sister, the National Network (TNN), will be produced by CBS, with Brando and Pitino calling the action.

Another interesting announcer pairing on the tournament has Bill Walton, on loan from NBC, Fox Sports Net and Channel 9, working with Dick Enberg.

Sean McManus, CBS Sports president, said an innovation this year on telecasts will be a graphic in the upper left-hand corner that will provide scores from other games going on at the same time.

To supplement CBS' coverage of the first three rounds, DirecTV is again offering a pay package, "Mega March Madness," that includes up to 37 additional games for $49. Individual games can be ordered for $19.95. The package is also being offered to bars and restaurant. DirecTV has hired Rick Majerus as a spokesman for the package.

NCAA tournament games also will be shown via

Speaking of the Internet, here's an oddity: Matches from the Tennis Masters Series Indian Wells on Monday and Tuesday will be broadcast live on Palm Springs radio station KPSI (920) and can be heard via Bud Collins and KPSI's Rich Gilgallon call the action.


John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were guests on Bob Costas' HBO show Wednesday night and Wooden, asked what he had learned from Abdul-Jabbar, said, "I learned more about man's inhumanity to man from Kareem than any individual that I have ever known."

Wooden then told how a woman sitting in a bar at a restaurant, upon seeing Abdul-Jabbar, blurted out, "My God, look at that big black freak."

Abdul-Jabbar, asked why the door has been shut on him in coaching, said, "I was my own man for so long and people kind of see me as difficult, and I only have myself to blame for that. I'm not everybody's darling. Public relations is so much a part of coaching and I didn't fit that mold."

The show will be replayed Saturday at 11 a.m.

Next week's show will feature Vince McMahon and Bob Knight. A better pairing might have been McMahon and Bob Wright, the president of NBC.


Jim Rome, not one known for "nice radio," did something different Thursday. As an antithesis to bad guys Gary Sheffield and Frank Thomas, Rome's producer, Travis Rogers, booked good guys Carlos Delgado of the Toronto Blue Jays and Avery Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs. And on their own, Lennox Lewis and Kurt Warner called in to say they wanted to be included on the "good guy" list. Could this be a trend?


FoxTrax, one of the most significant innovations introduced by Fox for its NASCAR coverage, will be increased and expanded, beginning with Sunday's coverage of the Winston Cup race at Atlanta. . . . Fox reports it has averaged a 7.8 national rating through three NASCAR Winston Cup events. The rating at this point last year was a 5.6. The L.A. rating has gone from a 2.6 to a 4.2. . . . HBO offers Sugar Shane Mosley against Shannon Taylor live Saturday at 7 p.m., and Showtime will replay the John Ruiz-Evander Holyfield fight Saturday at 10 p.m. and Monday at 11 p.m. . . . Fox Sports Net 2 will televise Tuesday's Dodger game against Atlanta at 10 a.m. and reshow it at 7 p.m. . . . Channel 5, which will televise the opening day game against Milwaukee April 2 at 1 p.m. at Dodger Stadium, had planned to televise a home game with San Francisco April 6 but dropped it because of a rock 'n' roll show. A bad sign!


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