St. Louis ready for Final Four repeat

ST. LOUIS — One hundred days away from St. Louis’ first Final Four in 26 years, organizers are looking forward to the next one.

“We want this to be a basketball town forever,” Saint Louis University athletic director Cheryl Levick said Wednesday at a news conference that marked the proximity of the event. “And we want the Final Four back.”

Horton has an inside track on handling Illini

Missouri’s freshman guard Jason Horton will have a secret weapon when the Tigers play Illinois today. Horton has a personal scout watching the Big Ten Conference for him.

He also has his own private teacher, mentor, trainer and coach a phone call away. He only has to dial his brother’s cell phone number.

Weber says rivalry good for teams, fans

Most people think this year’s annual Braggin’ Rights game is going to be a blowout for Illinois, but Illini coach Bruce Weber knows nothing in college basketball is certain.

It isn’t outlandish to think the match-up between No. 1 Illinois and a young, shaky Missouri team at St. Louis’ Savvis Center will be ugly. However, Weber said he’s certain the game will be closer than most people expect because of the strong rivalry between the two teams.

Bigger and better

The season began in October amid an aura of pessimism. The seasoned seniors, Travon Bryant and Arthur Johnson, were gone, and so was their presence in the post. In their stead emerged junior Kevin Young and freshman Kalen Grimes, big men full of talent but unproven at the collegiate level.

Together they sought to quell the negative chatter surrounding the Missouri men’s basketball team.

No. 1 teams stir emotions, memories

It’s inevitable. It happens every March.

Phone calls and television highlights provide friendly reminders of a day Jason Sutherland can’t seem to forget.

Tough Illini not the only challenge

Missouri won’t just be facing a formidable opponent in No. 1 Illinois on Wednesday.

The Tigers will also be trying to overcome a disappointing start by snapping a four-game losing streak in the Braggin’ Rights game. .

Hickman boys lose in overtime at home

Hickman’s boys’ basketball team isn’t a model of consistency.

With the Kewpies’ 56-52 home loss in overtime Tuesday night to the Jefferson City Jays, Hickman (3-8) dropped its third consecutive close game.

Ring of recognition

Harry Smith’s eyes penetrate through his dark, thick-rimmed glasses easier than a running back through one of the holes he so often opened.

His forehead is permanently wrinkled, a testament more to years of furrowing his brow ala Bill Cowher than his age.

Picturing perfect

Ten games into the Missouri season, the second half of the Indiana game is the closest the Tigers have been to perfect. But close to perfect may not be enough when Missouri plays Illinois on Wednesday in St. Louis.

The Tigers shot 83.3 percent from the field in the second half of their 56-53 win against the Hoosiers on Sunday, but Missouri shot 23.1 percent in the first half. The Tigers had been shooting 39 percent on the season.

Cards not wary of Mulder’s slide

ST. LOUIS — Mark Mulder believes his late-season swoon had nothing to do with being traded to the Cardinals.

The left-hander, acquired from Oakland on Saturday, was the American League starter in the All-Star game and was the first 17-game winner in the major leagues. But he was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in his last seven starts and a reason the Athletics missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Extra Points: MU extends media deal

Missouri has reached an agreement with Learfield Communications to continue broadcasting Tiger games for the next 11 years.

The multimedia deal will provide the university with a minimum of $32.5 million, but could net the athletic department as much as $50 million.

Chiefs flashing potential

KANSAS CITY — Nearing the end of a disappointing season, not all is gloomy for the Kansas City Chiefs.

A number of first- and second-year players are shiningly brightly in what amounts to real-time auditions for spots next year in what is certain to be a dramatically revamped roster.

Slam dunked

It was not what Quin Snyder wanted, but the crowd at Mizzou Arena loved it when Marshall Brown finished the game with a 360 dunk.

The 6-foot-7 forward’s dunk capped off Missouri’s (6-4) amazing 56-53 comeback victory against Indiana (2-5).

Tigers show heart in second half

Thomas Gardner walked slowly into the tunnel leading to Norm Stewart Court. Jason Conley followed closely behind.

They were composed. They were resolute. Their faces reflected no ill effects of a dismal first-half performance and neither did their play when they took to the court to begin the second half.

Hurt nose slows Indiana's Wright

Missouri had been wondering how exactly it was going to take Indiana guard Bracey Wright out of the game.

What happened probably wasn’t exactly what the Tigers had in mind. But an elbow to the face wasn’t enough to stop Wright

Missouri U.S. Attorney eyeing indictment

The specter of Ricky Clemons continues to haunt the Missouri men’s basketball program.

Now there are federal investigators involved, but the U.S. Attorney’s office would not elaborate on whether the recent indictment of a community college coach in Great Bend, Kan. will result in a subsequent investigation of MU practices.

Tough schedule tough on Indiana

It’s the kind of schedule that is usually reserved for March and the NCAA Tournament. Indiana decided to give it a try in December.

So much for good tidings.

Stanford pulls away in second half

"Packing the Zou” did not help the Missouri women’s basketball team.

Missouri lost to Stanford 71-55 on Saturday in front of 7,585 fans at Mizzou Arena.

Getting their kicks

The gym isn’t visible from the street.

You won’t find it on Broadway or Walnut, as its address suggests. Maps are of little use, considering the building isn’t technically located on a street.

Rockbridge third, Hickman fourth in swim meet

Six years ago Rock Bridge had only one swimmer in the first year of its program. Now the Bruins have 26 swimmers and they are giving some of the best teams in Missouri a battle.

Rock Bridge took third (316) in Friday night's meet against Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Chaminade, and Hickman. The Kewpies (222) took fourth. Blue Springs (391), the defending state champions won the meet easily, but Rock Bridge almost stole second away from Chaminade (324), the fourth place team in last year's state meet.