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JERRY CROWE

Timing is everything for USC's DeMar DeRozan

Text messages from press row . . .

March 19, 2009|JERRY CROWE

Impeccable timing by USC's DeMar DeRozan, who seems to have come of age as college basketball takes center stage. . . . .

Of course, that might be a good news/bad news situation for the Trojans, who saw Mark Sanchez turn a dominating Rose Bowl into an early exit -- much to Pete Carroll's displeasure. . . .

Is Jrue Holiday next? . . .

UCLA has made more trips to the Final Four than USC has made NCAA tournament appearances. . . .

USC last reached the Final Four in 1954. . . .

Darren Collison and UCLA flew about 2,400 miles to Philadelphia for their game against Virginia Commonwealth, farther than any other team in the field. . . .

Villanova, which might play UCLA in the second round, is only about a 30-minute drive from the Wachovia Center. . . .

Boston College Coach Al Skinner, whose team plays USC on Friday night at Minneapolis, is nicknamed "Coach Handsome" because of his unimpeachable fashion sense. . . .

Tim Floyd stuffed a clip-on tie into his pocket for good luck during the Pac-10 tournament -- a gift from the widow of former Texas El Paso coach Don Haskins, his former boss. . . .

Skinner was Julius Erving's teammate at Massachusetts. . . .

Hey now: Alfred Aboya and UCLA hope that VCU's shot-blocking sophomore center won't turn this evening's late-night special into the Larry Sanders show. . . .

UCLA has reached the Final Four 18 times, but never in a season in which the Bruins played their opening NCAA tournament game east of Albuquerque. . . .

USA Today, citing Nielsen data, reports that nearly 20% of households in Louisville, Ky., tuned in to the NCAA tournament over the last five years -- about three times the national average and sure to climb this year if Rick Pitino's Cardinals keep winning. . . .

Duke has not reached the Final Four since 2004. . . .

Noting that a local Wal-Mart still carries "Matador Football" sweatshirts and T-shirts, even though Cal State Northridge dropped the sport years ago, reader and CSUN graduate Ken Feldman of Porter Ranch e-mails to suggest, "Now that we've made the 'Big Dance' for the second time, maybe our basketball team will get more acclaim than our erstwhile football team." . . .

CSUN's Mark Hill, a transfer from Tulsa, gets another crack at Memphis after twice losing by double-digit margins to the Tigers in Conference USA games two seasons ago. . . .

Chubby Cox, point guard for the Bill Cartwright-led San Francisco team that was ranked No. 1 in the 1976-77 season but lost to Nevada Las Vegas in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, is Kobe Bryant's uncle. . . .

Cox's sister, Pam, is Bryant's mother. . . .

Bryant, of course, never played college basketball, nor did five of his Lakers teammates -- Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, DJ Mbenga, Sasha Vujacic and Sun Yue. . . .

Clippers rookie Eric Gordon helped Indiana reach the NCAA tournament a year ago, but this year the Hoosiers and Kentucky both were left out for the first time since 1979. . . .

Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie, on his job status, "I got married one time, and that honeymoon didn't last long either." . . .

Indiana and Kentucky have won 12 titles between them. ...

After this year's pairings were announced Sunday, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said, "We're the underdog now." . . .

In tonight's game, UCLA is favored by seven points. . . .

USC is favored by two points over Boston College, and CSUN is a 19 1/2 -point underdog against Memphis. . . .

Taj Gibson and the Trojans defeated three NCAA tournament teams en route to their first Pac-10 tournament title. . . .

Syracuse is offering framed copies of the box score from its epic six-overtime victory over Connecticut in the quarterfinals of last week's Big East Conference tournament. . . .

Price: $69, or $99 if signed by Coach Jim Boeheim. . . .

Notes fashion critic Lien Na of Hollywood.com, explaining why Radford's kilt-wearing Highlander is her choice as the best-dressed mascot in the NCAA tournament field: "Naughty schoolgirl skirts will never, ever go out of style." . . .

Even when worn by bearded men? . . .

UCLA is a 35-1 shot to win its 12th title, according to odds posted at BetUS.com, while USC is listed at 80-1, Northridge at 1,500-1 and tournament favorite North Carolina at 3-1. . . .

After the first round is completed Friday night, teams seeded 16th will have an all-time record of 0-100. . . .

The Lakers-loving father of Washington freshman Isaiah Thomas, who helped the Huskies to a No. 4 seeding in the West Regional, named his son after ex-Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas because he lost a bet during the 1989 NBA Finals. . . .

Isaiah's understanding mother must know March Madness.

--

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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