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Turning back the clock

SMU coach Larry Brown is in the NCAAs for the first time since he led Kansas to a national title in 1988.
SMU coach Larry Brown is in the NCAAs for the first time since he led Kansas to a national title in 1988.
Published Mar. 19, 2015

DALLAS — Larry Brown discovered something about his new iPhone when SMU finally ended its two-decade NCAA Tournament drought.

"I didn't realize how many text messages it would accept, so that kept me kind of busy," the 74-year-old Hall of Fame coach said.

Maybe the texts will keep on coming.

While the Mustangs are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993, Brown returns for the first time since leading Kansas to a national title 27 years ago.

"I hope it's like it was in '88," Brown said, before quickly trying to divert the attention from him to the SMU players, who weren't even born then.

"At my age, I enjoy every day. I don't think about the NCAA personally," he said. "I think about our seniors, and what they've been through and now they get this opportunity. I think about last year, that Sunday, just how disappointed we were."

Brown's disappointment at the Mustangs being left out last season after a loss in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals is well known.

After winning the conference regular-season and tournament championships to leave no doubt about an NCAA berth this season, the Mustangs (27-6) are the No. 6 seed in the South Region. They play today in Louisville, Ky., against UCLA (20-13), a team Brown took to the national championship game in 1980.

Asked what his emotions were when he realized the opening opponent was UCLA, Brown quipped, "I thought I coached everybody."

FAMILY TIES: Utah senior G Delon Wright, who leads his team against Stephen F. Austin tonight in Portland, is no stranger to the area as the younger brother of Dorell Wright, who plays for the NBA's Trail Blazers.

The elder brother jumped straight from high school to the pros in 2004 and has adopted his little brother's team. But, alas, the Blazers are on a five-game road trip during the tournament games in Portland. So Dorell went to Twitter to show his support: "Shout out to my Yng Utes 5th seed. Show time fellas. Shout out to them being in Portland while we're in Miami."

A GUARANTEE: Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford is confident that his 13th-seeded Eagles will beat No. 4 seed Georgetown tonight. Very confident. Toward the end of an interview with Jim Rome on CBS Sports Radio, Hayford all but guaranteed a victory, telling Rome, "We're gonna win and talk again, Jim."

HOME SCHOOLED: Northeastern F Scott Eatherton, of Hershey, Pa., and G David Walker, of Stow, Ohio, both grew up within short driving distance of Pittsburgh, where the Huskies face Notre Dame today. Eatherton's sister even attended college at Pittsburgh. "I had a lot of people texting me, hey, can you get me tickets?" he said. "I'm like, I only have so many."

INJURED LEADER: VCU lost star Briante Weber to a season-ending right knee injury in January, but even though he can't play, he has provided an emotional lift. He sits next to coaches on the bench, and his immobilized leg doesn't keep him from standing to shout instructions and encouragement to teammates, who all say they wouldn't be in the tournament without his guidance. He'll be in the sideline for today's game against Ohio State.

NOT SEEKING ADVICE: Tommy Amaker, whose Harvard team faces North Carolina today, spoke by telephone with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski this week, but not to consult his former mentor about playing his ACC rival. "They have their own agenda and being a No. 1 seed, they're certainly swamped with their thoughts of trying to do well in the tournament, get to the next stage of it," the Harvard coach said. "We were just going to congratulate each other on a great season."