Final Four Fan Events in NOLA

I’ll be adding more to this as I find it:

Thursday March 29, 2012

-NCAA Final Four USBWA Sports Writing Workshop
Location: New Orleans Marriott-Galleries 4 & 5
Hours: 8:30-10:45 a.m.
Admission: Free and Open to the Public. Register for the event at:
Description: The workshop is for aspiring high school and college journalists hoping to pursue a career in sports writing. Members of the USBWA serve on a panel to talk about their careers in the business and answer questions and offer advice to those hoping to go down the same career path. Select participants will receive a day-specific credential to attend official media events at the Louisiana Superdome.

Friday March 30, 2012

-USBWA Awards Breakfast
Location: New Orleans Marriott, Arcadia Room
Admission: $75 per ticket
Hours: 8:00-9:30
Description: The basketball writers will hand out the organizations’ National Freshman, National Coach and National Player of the Year awards. Tickets can be purchased by visiting:

-Final Four Friday-Team Practices
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Admission: Free & Open to the Public
Hours: 12-4:00 p.m. (Gates open at 11:00)
Description: See the 2012 NCAA Final Four Teams in action one last time before the big games take place. Final Four head coach interviews and other local entertainment will be sure to add to the excitement. Fans in attendance will be randomly selected to win national semifinal and championship game tickets throughout the day!! Practice Times:
12-12:50 University of Louisville
1-1:50 University of Kansas
2:10-3:00 University of Kentucky
3:10-4:00 Ohio State University

-AT&T Block Party, The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Hours 4-10 p.m.
Description: KISS kicks off The Big Dance, a free three-day concert series open to music fans in celebration of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. There will be plenty of food and activities to keep you entertained.

-Reese’s College All-Star Game
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Admission: Free and open to the public
Hours: 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Description: The Reese’s College All-Star Game features two teams comprised of the top collegiate senior student-athletes in the country. For the fourth year, the game will be played in the Final Four venue and will provide Louisiana Residents and other NCAA Basketball fans the chance to see many of the best college basketball players perform in action for free!

-Final Four Gathering Restaurants
Kentucky: Huck Finn’s Cafe, French Quarter, 135 Decatur Street New Orleans, LA 70130
Louisville: Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant, 701 Tchoupitoulas Street, Warehouse District, New Orleans, LA
Description: Restaurants from around NOLA will adopy fans from each of the Final Four teams during the championship week in New Orleans. Make these establishments your headquarters to meet old friends, new friends, and fellow alumni. These locations will be a prime gathering location throughout the week.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

-Coca-Cola Zero Countdown The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free & Open to the Public
Hours: 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Description: THE BLACK KEYS perform. The second of a free three day concert series open to music fans in celebration of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. There will be plenty of food and activities to keep you entertained.

-Tip-Off Tailgate presented by Infiniti
Location: Champions Square
Admission: FREE
Hours 1-4:30 p.m.
Description: A can’t miss pre-game celebration featuring live entertainment on the Capital One Stage, and all your favorite tailgate fare.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

-NCAA Final Four Dribble presented by Lowes Senior CLASS Award
Location: Start @ Champions Square, LaSalle Street
Finish: Ernest N. Morial Conventional Center (BracketTown)
Admission: Free-Registration Required
Hours: Dribble begins at 2:00 p.m., Registration 11:30-1:00 p.m. (Check-in prior to 1:30)
Registration: Onsite Registration will be available to the first 1000 registrants who did not pre-register on-line.
Description: Basketball fans 18 years of age and younger, will have the opportunity to dribble from Champions Square to Bracket Town. Participants will receive a free basketball and T-shirt courtesy of the NCAA. Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Wilson Sporting Goods and the New Orleans Local Organizing Committee. Participants wearing the T-Shirt will also receive free admission to Bracket Town on the event day. Participants must be present to receive complimentary items and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Dribble Event parking will be available at Champions Square garage for $10.00 per vehicle.

-Capital One JamFest, The Big Dance Concert Series
Location: Woldenberg Park
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Hours: 3-10 p.m.
Description: JIMMY BUFFETT performs and a fireworks display closes out the three-day music fest.

Monday April 2, 2012

-Tip-Off Tailgate Presented by Infiniti
Location: Champions Square
Admission: FREE
Hours: 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Description: A can’t miss pre-game celebration featuring live entertainment on the Capital One Stage, and all your favorite tailgate fare.

-NCAA/NABC Coaches Trophy Presentation
Locaton: Hilton Riverside
Admission: FREE
Hours: Postgame
Description: Winning Coach and student-athletes will be presented with the NABC Championship Trophy in a pep rally setting for all fans to enjoy.

Bracket Town Schedule 

-Ernest N. Morial Convention Center H-J
Admission: $10 (ages 12 and over)
$6 (ages 3-11, college students, senior citizens (55 and over), and military. Must have proper ID.
FREE (ages 2 & Under)
Purchase Tickets at the box office, or online at
Hours: 12-8:00 p.m.
Description: Come play with the best at BracketTown refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero-the ultimate Final Four Fan Fest! Fans of all ages can test their skills and enjoy championship action with basketball competitions, clincis, performances, autograph sessions and photo ops, the latest interactice games and demonstrations, prizes and more. Everyone’s a champion at Bracket Town.

Bracket Town® refreshed by Coca-Cola Zero Schedule of Events

All times are subject to change; all times are local, Central time

All events are open to the public

Friday, March 30th

12:00 PM Doors Open

1:00 – 2:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Scott Drew AT&T Fan Zone

1:30 – 2:30 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

1:30 – 3:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dereck Whittenburg Allstate

2:00 – 3:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

2:00 – 3:00 PM Appearance: Jimmy Graham

2:30 – 3:30 PM AT&T Appearance: Bob Huggins AT&T Fan Zone

3:00 – 8:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

3:00 – 4:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

3:00 – 4:00 PM Naismith Preview Show Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM Appearance: Bobby Hurley

4:00 – 5:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

4:00 – 5:00 PM AT&T Appearance: John Thompson III AT&T Fan Zone

4:00 – 6:00 PM Allstate Appearance: Miles Simon Allstate

4:30 – 4:50 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

5:00 – 6:00 PM Buick Appearance: Kenny Smith Buick

5:00 – 6:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

5:00 – 6:30 PM Battle of the Bands Buick Arena

5:30 – 6:30 PM AT&T Appearance: Ed Conroy AT&T Fan Zone

6:00 – 7:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

6:45 – 7:00 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

8:00 PM Doors Close

Saturday, March 31st

10:00 AM Doors Open

10:00 AM– 7:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Coca-Cola Zero Appearance: Clark Kellogg Coca-Cola Zero

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Brad Stevens AT&T Fan Zone

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Capital One Basketball Battle Buick Arena

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

12:00 – 1:00 PM AT&T Appearance AT&T Fan Zone

12:30 – 2:30 PM Legends Game presented by Buick Arena

Dove Men+Care

1:00 – 2:00 PM AT&T Appearance: John Brady AT&T Fan Zone

1:30 – 3:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Joey Rodriguez Allstate

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:15 – 2:15 PM Buick Appearance: Dick Vitale Buick Arena

2:00 – 3:00 PM AT&T Appearance: Mike Anderson AT&T Fan Zone

2:30 – 3:30 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

2:30 – 4:30 PM Allstate Appearance: James Worthy Allstate

3:00 – 4:00 PM Buick Appearance: Rick Barry Buick

3:30 – 4:30 PM Allstate Presents March Mayhem Buick Arena

with Dude Perfect

4:30 – 5:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dude Perfect Allstate

4:45 – 5:00 PM Players in Progress Buick Arena

7:00 PM Doors Close

Sunday, April 1st

12:00 PM Doors Open

12:00 – 5:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Coca-Cola Zero

12:15 – 1:15 PM AT&T Appearance: Jim Boeheim AT&T Fan Zone

12:30 – 1:30 PM Buick Appearance: Jay Bilas Buick

1:30 – 2:30 PM Allstate Appearance: Dick Vitale Allstate

1:00 – 2:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:45 – 2:45 PM AT&T Appearance: Steve Fisher AT&T Fan Zone

2:00 – 3:00 PM LG Home Court Challenge Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM Appearance: Deuce McAllister

3:00 – 4:00 PM Buick Appearance: Erin Andrews Buick

3:15 – 4:15 PM AT&T Appearance: Phil Ford AT&T Fan Zone

3:30 – 4:30 PM AT&T presents Mindless Behavior Buick Arena

Live from Bracket Town

4:00 – 5:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

4:00 – 5:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

4:45 – 5:45 PM AT&T Appearance AT&T Fan Zone

5:00 – 6:00 PM Enjoy More Madness with Buick Arena

Coca-Cola Zero & Kenny Smith

6:00 – 8:00 PM POWERADE® 3v3 Tournament Finals Buick Arena

6:00 – 7:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Hoops Training Court

6:00 – 7:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

8:00 PM Doors Close

Monday, April 2nd

12:00 PM Doors Open

12:30 – 1:30 PM Legends Appearance: Jay Williams AT&T Fan Zone

1:00 – 2:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

1:00 – 2:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

2:30 – 3:30 PM Legends Appearance: David Robinson AT&T Fan Zone

3:00 – 4:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

3:00 – 4:00 PM POWERADE® NCAA® Youth Clinic Buick Arena

3:00 – 4:00 PM Appearance: Steve Smith

4:00 – 5:00 PM Legends Appearance: John Havlicek AT&T Fan Zone

4:00 – 7:00 PM Buick World’s Largest Knockout Game Buick Arena

5:00 – 6:00 PM LG NABC Coaches Video Chat LG Fan House

7:00 PM Doors Close 

Louisville vs. Kentucky Series History

Kentucky Leads the All-Time Series 29-14.

Obviously the game has changed dramatically in the 100-years that this game has been played. But reviewing the history of this game always draws my curiosity to the games from 1959 and before. Particularly the Olympic Trial game in New York.

Before his death, I got to spend a lot of time with Ralph Beard.  In looking at the box scores Ralph dropped 22 points against the Cards.  That game featured the 1st ever championship team for Kentucky, that also featured Alex Groza, Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Cliff Barker, and Kenny Rollins also known as the “Fabulous Five”.  For the Cardinals Jack Coleman, Glenn & Roy Combs, and Deward Compton.  Ralph Beard loved basketball and told me countless stories during the era.  I wish I could share them all with you, but perhaps another time.

For now, check out the scores and dates of the series from the beginning of time.

Louisville Kentucky
02/15/13 10 34
02/07/14 17 22
03/01/14 13 26
01/23/15 14 18
02/27/15 26 15
02/12/16 26 22
02/22/16 24 32
01/17/22 14 38
01/21/22 22 29
03/27/48 57 91 Olympic Trials: New York, NY
03/20/51 68 79 NCAA Eastern Region Raleigh, NC (1st Round)
03/13/59 76 61 NCAA Midwest Regional Evanston, IL (Sweet 16)
03/26/83 80 68 NCAA Mideast Regional Knoxville, TN (Elite Eight)
11/26/83 44 65
03/22/84 67 72 NCAA Mideast Regional Lexington, KY Sweet 16
12/15/84 71 64
12/28/85 64 69
12/27/86 51 85
12/12/87 75 76
12/31/88 97 75
12/30/89 86 79
12/29/90 86 93
12/28/91 89 103
12/12/92 68 88
11/27/93 70 78
01/01/95 88 86
12/23/95 66 89
12/31/96 54 74
12/27/97 79 76
12/26/98 83 74
12/18/99 46 76
01/02/01 62 64
12/29/01 62 82
12/28/02 81 63
12/27/03 65 56
12/18/04 58 60
12/17/05 61 73
12/16/06 49 61
01/05/08 89 75
01/04/09 74 71
01/02/10 62 71
12/31/10 63 78
12/31/11 62 69
03/31/12 ???????? ???????  Final Four New Orleans, LA

Rick Pitino vs. John Calipari

This story could take a month to write.  Rick Pitino and John Calipari always seem to cross paths.  Rick Pitino recommended John Calipari for the UMASS job in 1988 and gave $5000 of his own money to help make the deal a reality.  In 1997 Rick Pitino left Kentucky to go to the NBA (Boston Celtics), where John Calipari left a year earlier to coach the New Jersey Nets. Later, John Calipari went to Louisville’s rival Memphis in 2000, and Rick Pitino went to coach the Louisville Cardinals in 2001. 9 years later John Calipari is the coach at a different rival school for the Cardinals, of course the University of Kentucky.  As intertwined as these two successful coaches may seem to be, they have always been on the other side.  As a result, their relationship is a little cold, though publicly both will say that they are “cordial”.

This offseason John Calipari made some comments that stirred up the fan bases of both UofL and UK.  Calipari’s quote was when talking about the uniqueness of Big Blue Nation, “It’s a unique thing.  There’s no other state, none, that is as connected to their program as this one.  Because other states have other programs.  Michigan has Michigan State, California has UCLA, North Carolina has Duke.  It’s Kentucky throughout this whole state, and that’s what makes us unique.”  Below is the full video:

Calipari’s comments, fully omitting the University of Louisville as a high-level basketball program who also competes in the state of Kentucky started a movement within both fan bases.  Kentucky fans began the movement, “Louisville Doesn’t Exist” and in true UK fashion created T-Shirts and Sweatshirts around the idea.  Louisville fans took major exception pointing out the fact that the city is the state’s economic engine and that the University is the driving force behind much of that engine, while also pointing out their rich basketball tradition.

Rick Pitino even fired back in response: “”Four things I’ve learned in my 59 years about people. I ignore the jealous, I ignore the malicious, I ignore the ignorant and I ignore the paranoid. If the shoe fits anyone, wear it.” Suggesting that John Calipari has a major case of Pitino-envy for Pitino’s multiple Final Fours and National Title. Pitino even added his own quip after defeating Florida to clinch the Cards’ berth into the Final Four: “There will be people at Kentucky that will have a nervous breakdown if they lose to us. You’ve got to watch. They’ve got to put the fences up on bridges. There will be people consumed by Louisville.”

Fans on both sides of the fence can argue for or against either coach.  It’s an argument that literally could go on into eternity.  But if we are going to write an article about John Calipari and Rick Pitino, and we are going to write it in a reasonable amount of time, we have to stick with the facts.

Career Wins:
Rick Pitino 616-227 (73.07%)
John Calipari 503-152 (76.79%)

Final Fours/Titles:
Rick Pitino has 6 Final Fours, 1 National Championship
John Calipari has 1 Final Four (2 were vacated due to player ineligibility), and 0 National Titles

Current Team:
Louisville is 30-7, finished 7th in the Big East, won the Big East Tournament and the West Region. They were #17 heading into the NCAA Tournamnent
Kentucky is 36-2, finished 1st in the SEC, runner-up in the SEC Tournament and won the South Region. #1 for MOST of the Season.

Rick Pitino has long been admired for his preparation and game planning. John Calipari has long been known for his ability to attract top talent. What isn’t fair is to sell either one of these coaches short on their ability to be BASKETBALL COACHES. Both coaches start their programs with Defense and Teamwork. Both coaches have had MAJOR SUCCESS coaching basketball. This is something to really admire in the state. Sure, we are all going to have our biases, we are all going to have our opinions, BUT THIS WOULDN’T BE HAPPENING IF BOTH COACHES WERE NOT THE VERY TOP IN THEIR PROFESSION. That’s impressive, and for both of these schools to represent the state and be rivals that’s impressive. It’s also fun.

Cards vs. Cats Bench

Jared Swopshire 6-8, 200 lbs. vs. Kyle Wiltjer 6-9, 239 lbs.

Russ Smith 6-0, 160 lbs. vs. Darius Miller 6-8, 225 lbs.

Wayne Blackshear 6-5, 220 lbs. vs. Eloy Vargas 6-11, 244

Jared Swopshire Kyle Wiltjer
Minutes 13.3 12
Points 3.4 5.2
Field Goal % 39.10% 43.60%
3-point % 20.80% 42.30%
FT % 68.80% 81.50%
Rebounds 2.9 1.9
Assists 0.4 0.4
Steals 0.3 0.1
Blocks 0.2 0.5
Turnovers 0.6 0.7
Fouls 1.1 1.2
Russ Smith Darius Miller
Minutes 21.3 25.8
Points 11.6 10
Field Goal % 35.90% 47.50%
3-point % 30.80% 38.30%
FT % 76.80% 77.00%
Rebounds 2.5 2.7
Assists 2 2.1
Steals 2.2 0.8
Blocks 0 0.3
Turnovers 2.3 1.5
Fouls 2.8 2.2
Wayne Blackshear Eloy Vargas
Minutes 6.5 6.4
Points 2 0.9
Field Goal % 25.00% 33.30%
3-point % 27.80% 0
FT % 55.60% 30.80%
Rebounds 1.2 1.9
Assists 0.1 0.1
Steals 0.2 0.1
Blocks 0.1 0.3
Turnovers 0.5 0.2
Fouls 0.6 0.8

In the previous meeting Russ Smith dropped 30 points and was Louisville’s only real offensive threat hitting 10 of his 20 shots from the field and 7 free throws.  Russ also had 5 rebounds and 3 steals.  Russ will come off the bench again in this one and may be called upon for scoring again if the Cards are struggling to score again.  Darius Miller actually got the start in place of Terrence Jones in the last meeting and went 2 for 8 from the floor scoring just 7 points.

Wayne Blackshear didn’t play, and probably won’t play more than 10 minutes against the Cats, but he has been able to play more and more down the stretch.  It doesn’t mean a lot in terms of his overall production, but it does mean a little rest for Kyle Kuric which (theoretically) should increase Kyle’s effectiveness.  Eloy Vargas shouldn’t play much more than a few minutes as well, getting Anthony Davis to the bench for a breather here and there.

Lastly Kyle Wiltjer is deadly from outside.  He is not an aggressive shot taker, but if he has an open look it’s going down.  Jared Swopshire will play quite a bit inside, but really struggled in the last game when Chane Behanan went out with early foul trouble.  I really don’t think Swopshire was anywhere close to being ready to being on the court at that point in time and he’ll get a shot at redemption.

Gorgui Dieng vs. Anthony Davis

Gorgui Dieng 6-11, 235 lbs. vs. Anthony Davis 6-10, 220 lbs.

Wow.  This is an incredible match-up that Anthony Davis got the better end of in the last meeting.  To be certain Anthony Davis is the better player, but both guys have similarities that make them both extremely effective interior players.  5 years ago Anthony Davis was a guard.  5 years ago Gorgui Dieng was playing soccer.  Neither player expected to be starting Centers in the Final Four 5 years ago.  So this is a really interesting duo for me.

Both guys are incredible shot blockers.  Anthony Davis is the best player in the nation and the difference maker.  What sets Davis apart from Dieng (and everyone else) is his overall experience playing the game.  Davis has guard skills, he can pass.  Gorgui isn’t as polished offensively but does have a post game that Davis lacks.  Dieng also isn’t much of a passer but has really mastered the principles of the “Pick & Roll”.  Since the last game Gorgui has been through some battles and Anthony Davis has been incredible from start to finish.  Everyone tries to get him into foul trouble and no one is successful, Dieng on the other hand can be prone to getting himself some early fouls.

The Last Time

Gorgui Dieng, C 33 2-5 0-0 1-2 0 5 0 1 6 3 4 5
Anthony Davis, F 27 3-4 0-0 12-13 2 10 0 3 6 2 3 18

In the previous meeting Anthony Davis dominated from the foul line and on the backboard.  Both players racked up blocks, neither really factored in their team’s offense, but Davis set himself apart with his play getting to the glass and hitting his free throws.  Obviously, looking at Davis’ free throw totals along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s frequency to the line it is important for the Cardinals to NOT send UK to the line.  For Anthony Davis, he may have to honor Dieng a bit more than the last meeting.  The Cards try and get the Center to switch a lot using the pick and roll and get Dieng moving towards the basket with a smaller player or Siva to take the bigger player to the basket.  The problem with that strategy is that Davis (as opposed to MOST Centers) is more mobile than a lot of guards.

Gorgui Dieng Anthony Davis
Minutes 32.6 31.7
Points 9.2 14.2
Field Goal % 53.40% 63.20%
3-point % 50.00% 15.00%
FT % 67.30% 71.00%
Rebounds 9 10.1
Assists 1 1.1
Steals 1.2 1.3
Blocks 3.2 4.6
Turnovers 2 0.9
Fouls 3.3 1.9

Both of these players have dominated games without really factoring on the offensive end, but both guys have the ability to be effective on the offensive end as well.  Anthony Davis is the National Player of the Year and certainly has more of an offensive attack than Dieng.  But Gorgui can post Davis up, where you probably won’t see Davis try that on Dieng.  Gorgui’s main point of emphasis in this game should be patrolling the lane and keeping Davis and MKG off the glass where they both went crazy in the last game.  Davis hasn’t had trouble with fouls very often this season, but I would think the Cards will still try to go after Anthony Davis early on to try to either get easy scores or cheap fouls early on, but if Davis sends the ball out I’d expect that strategy to get abandoned quickly.