April 3, 2005 |
Illinois forward Roger Powell Jr. raised his index finger toward the roof of the Edward Jones Dome in the final seconds of the Fighting Illini's 72-57 semifinal victory over Louisville in the Final Four on Saturday. Yes, Illinois is still No. 1, and this time it is because Powell -- a licensed Pentecostal minister whose teammates call him "the Rev" -- was the answer to quietly uttered prayers. "I was pointing to Jesus. That's what I was doing.
April 2, 2005 |
* The game: Illinois (36-1) vs. Louisville (33-4), 3:07 p.m. PST, on Channel 2 * How they got there: The last step was a dramatic one for both teams. Illinois made a comeback against Arizona to reach the Final Four that was so stunning some of the players said they now feel a sense of destiny. Trailing by 15 with four minutes left, Illinois stormed back to win in overtime, 90-89.
March 31, 2005 |
Hard to believe, but it has been 18 years since a boyish Rick Pitino first burst into the Final Four in 1987, with a three-point-shooting Providence team led by point guard Billy Donovan that upset top-seeded Georgetown. Though it was the first of Pitino's five Final Fours, it was also the saddest, a March filled with pain after his infant son Daniel, born prematurely, died of heart failure shortly before the tournament began.
March 27, 2005 |
West Virginia's Patrick Beilein banked in a three-point shot from deep in the corner and Louisville Coach Rick Pitino told his Cardinals not to worry. Beilein stopped not far over the half-court line, 30 feet from the basket, and made another. That's OK, Pitino told his wide-eyed pupils. What can you do? Kevin Pittsnogle, a 6-foot-11 center, knocked in a 26-foot three-point shot while he was falling out of bounds. Not to worry, Pitino told the shell-shocked Louisville players, comebacks are fun.
March 25, 2005 |
Washington guard Nate Robinson stood by his coach, bent at the waist, trying to stretch out his cramping legs but unable to make the pain in his heart go away. Louisville, champion of Conference USA, regular season and tournament, owner of 31-4 record and a curiously low No. 4 seeding in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional, ran circles around Robinson's top-seeded Huskies on Thursday night in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals built a 12-point halftime lead and just kept going, eliminating Washington, 93-79.
February 12, 2003 |
The life has returned to Louisville basketball, only two seasons after it had slipped away during a 12-19 season in Denny Crum's final season as coach. That was before Rick Pitino arrived, but there have been times when he has felt the life being pulled out of him too. It had nothing to do with his troubled turn as coach and president of the Boston Celtics, his first encounter with failure.