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Final Four really starts on Friday

SAN ANTONIO >> Some folks think the Final Four doesn’t really begin until Saturday.

They are wrong.

Along with lots of meetings for coaches and NCAA folks, there is so much else going on for fans and media.

Here was my day, for example:

It started at 9:45 a.m. with the Sister Jean press conference. In a room that the fire marshal would have shut down if he had been looking, Sister Jean answered questions about God, Easter, and Loyola-Chicago basketball.

Some of her comments:

>> “I pray for both teams, but at the end I ask God that the Ramblers have the big W;”

>> “I pray nobody gets injured;” and

>> “‘Worship-work-win’ is my mantra.”

Her face is on socks, t-shirts and bobbleheads. As she put it, the bobblehead company can retire.

Almost everybody is talking about Loyola, including its 1963 championship team.

After all four teams’ press conferences over a four-hour period, first coaches, then individual players, then team. it was time for the Reese’s All-Star game, with players not likely to go in the NBA Draft — Gabe Levin of Long Beach was the lone Big West player.

Then it was a half-hour with the TNT/CBS crew, including Charles Barkley, Grant Hill, Clark Kellogg and Bill Raftery. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Barkley dominated the room.

Some of his comments:

>> “The Nielsen ratings are full of (garbage);”

>> “If Loyola wins, it will be the greatest story in NCAA history;” and

>> “Last year’s game was awful — worst officiating I have ever seen.”

Then it was time to go to dinner, but the traffic and security has made it almost impossible to get out of town. Streets blocked — made the commute from Leeward Oahu look like a picnic.

Between all the folks in town and security, getting around town is very difficult.

Finally made it to dinner, where San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was hosting several college coaches.

By the way, think hotels in Hawaii are expensive? My motel usually goes for $100 a night. Not now — it’s $305, and that’s cheap compared to the larger chains. Some rooms are going for over $1,000 a night.

Well, tomorrow are the games. I look for Michigan to burst Loyola’s bubble and Kansas to lose to Villanova. It’s clear the crowd will be rooting for an all-Catholic-school final and a goodbye to the large public universities.

One final comment: San Antonio is a great place for the Final Four. The Riverwalk has been extended and is a a major tourist attraction. and there is always the Alamo. Everything is within walking distance, although the Alamodome is a football stadium and folks in the upper section better have internet.

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