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Monday, March 26, 2007 - Page updated at 10:43 AM

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NCAA Notebook | Tar Heels' Williams no fan of late starts

The Associated Press

North Carolina coach Roy Williams is real clear on how he feels about late starting times in the NCAA tournament.

"Dumb as dirt," he said earlier this week.

No matter, the Tar Heels will tip off right around 10 p.m. tonight in East Rutherford, N.J., against USC. That'll be the second semifinal in the East Regional, following Vanderbilt-Georgetown.

North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough isn't nearly as bothered as his coach.

"The last time we played late I think we won," he said. "That would be fine with me. I'm ready to play another 10 o'clock game."

Hansbrough said he had a game plan for preparing for late starts.

"I just kind of relax and have a shootaround, things like that, stay loose. Don't try to sleep all day, but definitely don't do too much," he said.

One thing that's not on Hansbrough's schedule: tuning the TV to basketball.

"I don't like to watch it. You get swamped with all this stuff and listen to what everybody says about everything," he said. "I just like to watch a movie if I am going to watch something."

All in the family

To coach Tim Floyd, the rise of USC basketball is partly due to the effort of Trojans football coach Pete Carroll.

"Pete's been an ally. And if you have a cannon, you shoot it," Floyd said Thursday. "That football program has more mystique than any athletic program in the United States in college sports. Football, basketball or baseball.

"Pete is a basketball guy. He plays noon hoops. He's over watching practice on occasion. He's at our games," Floyd said. "I have had him come by and speak to our team before a couple of big games this year."

Floyd, in his second season at USC, has guided the Trojans into the East Regional semifinals against top-seeded North Carolina. USC is a perennial power in football, and Floyd said Carroll's help has boosted the basketball program.

"Every recruit that we have on campus sits down and visits with him," Floyd said. "They have a Trojan tour that they do every summer where it's always been football guys going out and talking around the state of California and San Diego and San Francisco, et cetera. Pete insisted I go along with him. He's a team guy."

Tickets available

The day before the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis, plenty of good seats could be had. Blame it on a far-flung field that was far from ideal for tournament organizers.

Each school received a 1,250-ticket allotment, but Oregon returned 600 and Florida threw 750 back in the pool, leaving prime locations in the lower bowl. Top-seeded Florida was placed in the Midwest because it was the nearest venue to its campus in Gainesville, Fla.

Tournament organizers speculate Florida fans might wait to make a much shorter jaunt to the Final Four in Atlanta. Plus flights were pricey.

As of Friday, about 27,000 tickets had been sold with both UNLV and Butler using all 1,250 tickets. St. Louis had attendance of about 31,000 at the Midwest Regional in 2004 and 47,000 for the Final Four in '05. A couple of Midwestern entrants likely would have made a big difference this year.

The Edward Jones Dome has a capacity of 66,000 for NFL games.

"If we had Kansas and Southern Illinois, 70,000 wouldn't be enough," said Jack Watkins of the Missouri Valley Conference, which runs the regional.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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