Dawson on Groce: Line those stars up

Dawson on Groce: Line those stars up

When Illinois reached the Final Four in 2005, Brett Dawson was covering Bruce Weber's team for The News-Gazette.

Dawson is back at the Final Four today, covering Kentucky for rivals.com. We caught up with Dawson on Sunday:

1. Coolest thing about covering a Final Four?

The spectacle is great, but the best thing about covering a Final Four -- at least when you’re covering Kentucky -- is the extra time that you as a reporter get to spend with the players. Kentucky is protective of its basketball team. One-on-one interviews are rare. It’s a challenge to bring much out of a player in massive group interviews and limited time. The crowds don’t get smaller as the NCAA Tournament wears on, but the interview opportunities are longer. And this group of players has come out of its collective shell to reveal some thoughtful, often hilarious personalities we didn’t see much in the regular season. 

2. How long until Illinois gets back there?

I like what John Groce is doing at Illinois, but there’s another significant step to take before he gets the Illini to the Final Four. Cliff Alexander can’t put down the Illinois hat, and Quentin Snider can’t back out of his commitment. You can win without four- and five-star talent in college basketball, but it’s awfully hard, and Kentucky’s current run only underscores the importance of talent to title hopes. 


3. Who have you seen in North Texas?

As a basketball junkie, I’m most impressed with the hoops luminaries in Arlington, Texas. Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are on hand, of course, and Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony. Dwight Howard attended Saturday’s Florida-Connecticut game. Terrence Jones visited the Kentucky locker room. But the guy who actually made the Wildcats starstruck was rapper Drake, an on-again off-again attendee of UK games since John Calipari took over the program. Kentucky players acted around him the way Cat fans act around them.