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North Carolina men's coach Roy Williams gambles a bit, too

DETROIT — Ty Lawson wasn't the only North Carolina guy to try his hand at craps this week.

Roy Williams went, too.

Which answered the question of whether the Tar Heels coach was upset that his point guard went to the casino Wednesday night.

"It's strange, if we don't want those kids doing it, don't put the Final Four in a city where the casino is 500 yards from our front door," Williams said Friday. "And they've got a great buffet in there. I mean, come on."

Kidding aside, the NCAA has always disapproved of gambling — it runs clinics and public-service announcements deriding it — and this year's Final Four has opened doors for some to chastise NCAA leaders as hypocrites.

Coaches of the other three teams more or less dismissed the issue. "I just don't really find it that problematic," UConn's Jim Calhoun said.

Williams didn't duck the issue. He said his team arrived on Wednesday, and, "I'm not going to tell my guys to stay in the room and watch Bill Cosby reruns for four days, c'mon."

He said he met with Lawson and Marc Campbell before they left for the casino and told them to get in touch with him if they felt like they were going to do something "questionable."

Then the coach went himself, mainly out of superstition.

This season, he lost money playing craps in Detroit then coached the Tar Heels to a 98-63 win over Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. He got a similar result on a trip to Reno to play Nevada.

"So you've got to be halfway an idiot if you think I'm not going to go gamble and lose money before this game, too," Williams said.

Feeling better: Michigan State senior F Raymar Morgan, who broke his nose last week in the Sweet 16 win against Kansas, will wear a lighter and better-fitting mask tonight against Connecticut.

"It's tighter on my face, and they made the eyes bigger so I can see out my peripheral," he said.

Ready already: The Villanova Wildcats needed a week off, coach Jay Wright said, given the way his team advanced to the Final Four — with Scottie Reynolds hitting a shot with 0.5 seconds left to beat Pittsburgh last week in Boston.

"We needed a couple of days to enjoy that and come down from that," he said. "I thought Tuesday, we didn't really have a great practice. I think we were still coming down from that. And then Wednesday, we started to pick it up again, and we had a great practice Wednesday, a great practice (Thursday)."

No place like home: The Spartans will enjoy a homecourt advantage tonight (there was a huge crowd just to watch them shoot around Friday), but that has its downside.

"I got about 1,000 ticket requests," sophomore G Kalin Lucas said. "Everybody's trying to come; family, friends, some people I haven't talked to in four or five years are calling me, (others) trying to hit me up on Facebook that I don't even know."

Dyson arrives: Injured UConn junior G Jerome Dyson flew in to join teammates before their open workout. Dyson, a junior, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Syracuse on Feb. 11. He had surgery soon after and recently has begun rehab.

Dyson said he wanted to get the feel of a Final Four even if he can't participate. "I'm hoping to get out there and shoot around a little bit, just to experience it and be with my teammates."

Thumbs-up for Hasheem: UConn C Hasheem Thabeet jammed the ring and middle fingers on his left hand in the Huskies' West Region victory over Missouri last week. Although the injury affected him in practice last week, he said it shouldn't hamper him against Michigan State today.

"I've been doing rehab a lot, and it gets better every day," Thabeet said.

He said the injury hindered him as he rebounded in practice early in the week.

"But thanks to the trainer, James Doran, I've been working with him all the time, and I'm getting better every day," Thabeet said. "I'm just looking forward to the game."

Times staff writer Brian Landman contributed to this report.

North Carolina men's coach Roy Williams gambles a bit, too 04/03/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 3, 2009 9:30pm]
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