Treading lightly all week, Lang plays for North Carolina; Sore ankle doesn't keep starting forward from semifinal against Florida; Notebook


As expected, North Carolina starting power forward Kris Lang played in last night's NCAA tournament semifinal against Florida.

Lang, who injured his right ankle early in last week's South Regional victory against Tulsa but later returned, practiced lightly all week.

He had averaged 8.8 points in the tournament heading into last night's game while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Sitting not on cloud 9

Dan and Ron Clatterbuck met their seats with happiness but still had a suggestion for the NCAA.

"Fill up the whole dome and move the court to the center," the elder Ron Clatterbuck said. "Then these seats wouldn't be as bad."

The Clatterbucks, whose tickets read section 407, row 30, seats 11 and 13, had the worst seats in RCA Dome for last night's Final Four.

Dan Clatterbuck said he and his father won the ticket through the NCAA lottery back in November, and paid $40 a piece for the tickets.

Neither attended any of the schools involved, and said they were motivated to come just because they love college basketball.

The seats were so high up that they made 6-foot players look about 1 foot tall.

"This really hurts those that just come out of there love for basketball and benefits the fans of those four schools because they get all the good seats," said Dan Clatterbuck, who works as an engineer in Ann Arbor, Mich. "But all in all, it has been worth the experience."

MEAC sounds through

The guy whose voice was heard after every basket this Final Four can thank the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for his sudden rise to the Big Dance.

Jackie Bowe, who also calls the MEAC tournament that includes Coppin State, Morgan State and UMES, is the public address announcer at Final Four for the second straight year.

Bowe has called the MEAC tournament for the past three years, leading conference commissioner Charles Harris to submit his tape to the NCAA after the previous announcer retired after 26 years. Bowe said he was unaware that he was in contention to become the new announcer until after he had been selected.

"Charles told me he did not want to get my hopes up," said Bowe, who only works PA for the Final Four now after retiring from Norfolk State. "It really is an honor to do this for the second straight year."

Purdue's seen them all

Purdue is the only team to have faced all the Final Four teams.

In fact, seven Boilermakers games came against the teams, with four alone against Wisconsin. Purdue went 3-4 overall, splitting with the Badgers, beating Michigan State by three in January, beating Florida by 11 in November before losing the next day to North Carolina by 15 in the Maui Invitational.

All in the family

As Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett was preparing for the Final Four, his daughter, Kathi, was named coach of the women's basketball team at Indiana. They are the only father-daughter coaching tandem in Division I.

Big Ten time

The Wisconsin-Michigan State matchup marked only the third time that two Big Ten schools have faced off in the Final Four.

In 1989, Michigan defeated Illinois, 83-81, and later beat Seton Hall for the school's only national championship. In 1976, Indiana downed Michigan, 86-68, in the NCAA final for coach Bob Knight's first national title.

Hoosier blues

North Carolina's road to a national championship has always resulted in a dead end here.

The Tar Heels have lost both in their previous Final Four appearances at RCA Dome, falling to Kansas in 1991 and Arizona in 1997.

North Carolina hasn't had much success here outside the tournament either. Its last win in the Hoosier state was in 1992, when the Tar Heels defeated Butler.

You again?

Bennett's first Final Four will be against the same opponent he faced in his first NCAA Division I tournament game. In 1991, Bennett coached Wisconsin-Green Bay, which was edged by Michigan State in the first round, 60-58, on a buzzer beater by Steve Smith.

Et cetera

North Carolina participated in a NCAA-record 15th Final Four and its third in four years. Florida coach Billy Donovan had never played or coached against Michigan State, Wisconsin or North Carolina. But in 1989 and 1990, he was a graduate assistant at Kentucky, which beat the Tar Heels twice.

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