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Virginia Wins, Pete Gillen Interviews, The NCAA Screws Up

Adam Kilgore again from Columbus, where I just got out of the UVA media scrum and Tennessee is housing Long Beach. Crank up the Sean Singletary vs. Chris Lofton stroies. That's actually a worthy storyline to spill ink and kill trees for; should be tremendous.

Virginia got there thanks to improved defense and a monumental performance from James Richard Reynolds, who scored 28 points, 23 in the first half. Sean Singletary played an awesome game, too. 23 points, six assists and nine rebounds, if ya need him.

Couple good anecdotes afterward: When Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds walked over to do the radio interview, Singletary whirled a towel and whipped Reynolds in the leg with it, then they laughed and high-fived. The really funny thing happened when they arrived at the interview, because the interviewer was none other fomrer Virginia Coach Pete Gillen, who recruited both players and was doing the game Westwood One. I coulnd't hear the interview, but I'm sure it was interesting. When they were done, Gillen gave Reynolds a high-five and rubbed his head. Nice moment.

Gillen still lives in Charlottesville, where his daughter goes to high school, and called games - mostly WAC and Mountain West, I believe - for CSTV. I talked to him earlier this season for a story on Singletary, and he was very gracious and accomodating. I also ran into him at a hotel bar in Charlottesville very early in the season. He was sitting alone, drinking ice water (really) and watching a few games on these four projection screens. The place had a package showing some games from out west, and he wanted to research. It was odd seeing him there, but it showed what a down-to-Earth guy he is.

In non-Pete Gillen news, players seem to agree the reason for the convincing first half was simple: energy. Jason Cain said it was the most concentrated the Cavaliers have been the entire season. He also said he knew Reynolds would have a big game, because he saw the swagger and confidence all week in practice. You can read more on the game from estimbale colleagues Eli Saslow and John Feinstein in the paper tomorrow (I've got Virginia Tech duty tonight).

-On the post-game box score, it lists the officials as Tom Lopes, Hal Husk and Sean Singletary. No wonder U.-Va. got the calls. I actually asked U-Va. SID Jim Daves, who alerted the media mongrels to the mistake, if that was actually the ref's name. Bulldog Virginia Tech Beat Man for the Roanoke Times Mark Berman laughed at me because of the astronomical odds that a referee named Sean Singletary would ever ref a Virginia NCAA Tournament game. I probably deserved it.

-If you hate the NCAA, you'll enjoy this. They put some snacks (I perfer the Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips) and sodas for the media in the press room. I took one bag out to the court, and some doofus in an NCAA sweater vest made me put it in a cup that said "NCAA" on it. Apparently, they don't want to adverstie for Sun Chips or any other salty treat for free, should the bag be caught on TV. Ridiculous. I pledge to make it my goal to eat as many snacks as I can courtside NOT out of those stupid cups.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 16, 2007; 3:30 PM ET
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My wife and I have seen Gillen a few times this season as well at a bar/restaurant near the UVa campus. He's never having a drink - apparently, he usually comes to this place for dessert. He knows everyone who works there, and he genuinely seems more interested in listening to them than regaling them with stories about life as a basketball coach. He's a really nice, down-to-earth guy - it's a shame things didn't work out for him at UVa.

Posted by: Eric Swensen | March 16, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Berman's aggressive as hell, and if i were an SE I'd love to have him ... but ask him about getting shoved in a locker by some players about a dozen years ago.

Posted by: A Locker | March 16, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Pete was always a great person down at UVa. He was very nice to all the students, ordering pizzas for students who camped out for basketball games and encouraging the players to mingle with the fans. He also always worked out in the student gym. It'd be eerie working on the Eliptical machine the first few times Pete Gillen climbed onto the machine next to you.

Posted by: FS | March 19, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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