NCAA tournament: More seen and heard in Salt Lake City

2013-03-21T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:09:24Z NCAA tournament: More seen and heard in Salt Lake CityPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

O No

Solomon Hill had a perfect explanation for President Barack Obama picking Belmont over Arizona in his bracket Wednesday.

"He's lost Arizona in the past two elections," the UA forward said before the Wildcats' shootaround at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.

"He probably has a little out for us."

Hill pointed out that some of the President's other brackets haven't "really worked out for him."

Told he could tell Obama that in person were the Wildcats to win the national title, he smiled.

"I doubt that I'd say that," he said.

Wing Kevin Parrom said he "can't be mad" at the President.

Guard Gabe York was equally diplomatic.

"That's his choice," he said.

Gold jersey

Hill wore a gold practice jersey with pride Wednesday. It's given each week to the top performer on the team. The navy side of the jersey has gold numbers, while the ordinarily white side is a pale gold.

"You know I had to go out with a bang," Hill said.

The award is given based on a points system that tracks practice and game performance.

With few practices left, Hill said he wasn't sure the jersey would be issued again.

"Hopefully I can hang on to this for the rest of the tournament," he said. "I might be able to take it home when it's all said and done."

Quotable

"I tease him a lot about it, from Instagram and tagging, Cosmopolitan and his photos and stuff like that, but … it's funny, but I guess he's deserving."

New Mexico center Alex Kirk, on teammate Hugh Greenwood being named one of Cosmopolitan magazine's sexiest March Madness players.

O Canada

Twenty-eight Canadian-born players are participating in this year's NCAA tournament.

Wichita State and Harvard, two other Salt Lake City participants, feature two Canadians apiece, bringing the region to six.

Two more - guard Kevin Pangos and forward Kelly Olynyk - star for Gonzaga.

"Basketball is kinda on the rise and it's really on the come-up," said Olynyk, who was on one of four regional Sports Illustrated covers this week, "so that's huge."

Pangos said Canadians are "pushing each other" to get better.

"The bar's set a lot higher," he said. "Guys aren't satisfied with making an NCAA team anymore. Now the goal is to be in the NBA, on the top NCAA teams."

Gonzaga's two stars played in the Canadian National Basketball Camp over the summer, and mingled with Canadian NBA players and coaches.

"Being around them, playing with the different styles of guards and things, it's hard to soak it all in because there's so much you can learn there," Pangos said.

"We came back with a whole new mindset, and it motivated us, for sure."

Stock

Salt Lake City has one massive connection to Gonzaga: John Stockton.

The former Bulldogs point guard is one of the two greatest players in Utah Jazz history - a statue of him stands outside EnergySolutions Arena.

"You're not going to meet a more humble, down-to-earth superstar, Hall of Fame guy in your life," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

He called Stockton - whose son, David, averages 3.6 points as a Bulldogs reserve - "one of the most, if not the, wittiest guy I know, and really a lot of fun and very giving."

Kelly Olynyk said John Stockton has "been unreal" for the team.

"He's one of those guys that, you want to listen to him, like, he's going to give you the secret of life," he said. "Because he's a wealth of knowledge, and in five minutes you can learn something you couldn't learn your whole life, if you hadn't talked to him."

The big number

8

Belmont has won 20 or more games in eight of the past 10 years.

Another quotable

"It makes you play harder. It makes you play with more urgency. It makes you play extremely hard every possession. As an older guy, you want to go out and you want to get to Atlanta and you want to win a national championship."

UA wing Kevin Parrom , on the chance today will be his last career game.

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