National championship game notes

Gerry Ahern
Yahoo! Sports

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SAN ANTONIO – Memphis freshman guard Derrick Rose walked into the press room Sunday at the Alamodome, grimaced, then summoned coach John Calipari. The two left the room, leaving the assembled writers scratching their heads.

Rose, the quarterback of the Tigers' run to the national championship game, didn't return. Calipari said Rose was suffering from an upset stomach. But he will play in Monday's title game against Kansas, according to Memphis sports information director Lamar Chance.

"He eats Gummi Bears and Starburst for breakfast, and Twizzlers and Honey Buns for dinner. That's why his stomach hurts," teammate Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "We tell Derrick the whole year, 'Stop eating so many Gummi Bears and Sour Straws.' But he can't … Nobody eats Gummi Bears more than him."

Rose, who was treated by team trainers, is second to Douglas-Roberts on the team in scoring (14.8 points per game) and assists (5.2).

In Saturday's semifinal win over UCLA, he had 25 points and nine rebounds. For the NCAA tournament, he is averaging 21.4 points and 5.6 assists.


Douglas-Roberts, a Detroit native, was heavily recruited by Big Ten schools. But he chose Memphis, Calipari and Conference USA and has no regrets.

He was asked if he would be the same player had he stayed closer to home.

"In the Big Ten, the style of play is conventional and I'm not that type of player," Douglas-Roberts said. "The program at Memphis allows me to show my skills, and I needed a style of play like this in order to excel. Making the decision to go to Memphis was the best decision of my life."

The numbers back up that premise. He is shooting 54.4 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from three-point distance and averaging 18 points.


The Big 12 hasn't had a national champion in basketball in its 12-year existence. Kansas and coach Bill Self could change that with a win over Memphis.

Self believes that would be an important step for the league.

"It's something that I think would legitimize how excellent play is in our league," he said. "If you watched us play, if you watched Texas play, the four other teams that made the tournament, the league's really good.

"But I think nationally in order to garner the respect that a league deserves, you have to cut down the nets."


Much has been made of Memphis' erratic performance at the free-throw line this season. The Tigers are shooting just 61.3 percent.

Making the freebies wasn't an issue against the Bruins. Memphis hit on 20 of 23 attempts, an 87 percent clip.

What prompted their epiphany?

"The key was us not shooting the ball," Joey Dorsey said of the majority of the Tigers. "It was Chris and Derrick. We're gonna keep them at the line."

Rose made 11 of 12 free throws, Douglas-Roberts 9 of 11.

Calipari said after it became evident that his team was struggling from the stripe, he implemented a ladder challenge free-throw contest. Standings were posted on a board. It was a light approach that beat threatening his team with running laps for not knocking down free throws, he said.

"Everybody wanted to get to the top of the board," guard Willie Kemp said.


Kansas guard Brandon Rush's older brother Kareem will be in attendance for the championship game.

Kareem, who played collegiately at Missouri, is now a member of the Indiana Pacers of the NBA.

Attending the game will be costly for the elder Rush. The Pacers plan to fine him for leaving the team, Brandon Rush said.

Indiana played a home game against Milwaukee on Sunday and faces Atlanta in Indianapolis on Wednesday.


Former Kansas great Danny Manning, who led the Jayhawks to the 1988 national championship, was among seven players, coaches and broadcasters named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Joining Manning for the induction ceremony Nov. 23 in Kansas City, Mo., will be former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, former Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan, Auburn and NBA rebounding star Charles Barkley, four-time Utah All-American Arnie Ferrin and broadcasters Dick Vitale and Billy Packer.

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