first_img‘Severe threat’ Prosecutors said during the trial that Hariri was assassinated because he was perceived to be a “severe threat” to Syrian control of the country.Hariri was Lebanon’s Sunni premier until his resignation in 2004 over Syria’s role as power-broker in the country.The case was “circumstantial” but “compelling”, prosecutors said, resting on mobile phone records allegedly showing the suspects conducting intense surveillance of Hariri from just after his resignation until minutes before the blast.Saad Hariri, who later went on to become prime minister like his father, said in a statement issued by his office last week that he had “never lost hope in international justice and the exposure of the truth”.”We in the Future Movement look to the seventh of August, to be a day of truth and justice for Lebanon,” he said.He called on supporters to demonstrate “patience” and avoid social media disputes about the verdict.Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab meanwhile called on people to avoid “fishing in troubled waters” and said authorities “must be ready to deal with the fallout” of the judgment.The verdict will not be the end of the tribunal’s work, as it opened a second case last year charging prime suspect Ayyash with terrorism and murder over deadly attacks on politicians in 2004 and 2005. The court is billed as the world’s first international tribunal set up to probe terrorist crimes, and it has cost at least $600 million since it opened its doors in 2009 following a UN Security Council resolution.But the tribunal faces doubts over its credibility with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah refusing to hand over the defendants, and the case relying almost entirely on mobile phone records.And while Hariri’s son Saad looked forward to a “day of truth and justice”, many Lebanese people are meanwhile more preoccupied with the country’s economic crisis, the worst since the 1975-1990 civil war.Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the judgment “will be delivered from the courtroom with partial virtual participation” at 0900 GMT on Friday. Topics : ‘Intentional homicide’ The four defendants went on trial in 2014 on charges including the “intentional homicide” of Hariri and 21 others, attempted homicide of 226 people wounded in the bombing, and conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.Salim Ayyash, 56, is accused of leading the team that carried out the bombing, which involved a truck packed full of explosives that detonated near Hariri’s motorcade on February 14, 2005.Assad Sabra, 43, and Hussein Oneissi, 46, allegedly sent a fake video to the Al-Jazeera news channel claiming responsibility on behalf of a made-up group. Hassan Habib Merhi, 54, is accused of general involvement in the plot.The alleged mastermind of the bombing, Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, was indicted by the court but is believed to have died while fighting with the Syrian regime in May 2016.The surviving suspects face life imprisonment if convicted, although sentencing will be carried out at a later date.”If a convicted person is at liberty and not present the trial chamber shall issue a warrant of arrest,” a court spokesman said.Both the prosecution and defense can appeal the judgment and sentence, while if a defendant is eventually arrested he can request a retrial. A UN-backed tribunal will give its verdict Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, but questions will remain over a long and costly trial whose suspects remain at large.Four alleged members of the Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at the court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut suicide bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people.The judgment harks back to an event that changed the face of the Middle East, with Hariri’s assassination triggering a wave of demonstrations that pushed Syrian forces out of Lebanon after 30 years.last_img read more

first_imgShip repair and marine specialist A&P Group has named two managers to deliver its new strategic partnership with Peel Ports Group in Great Yarmouth.Jonathan Mills has joined the A&P Group from Marineserv UK as General Manager to lead operations at the Port of Great Yarmouth.A&P Group has also appointed Dale Bezant as Project Manager who is joining the company after working as the project and operations manager for CLS Offshore.Mills said: “There’s a very distinct opportunity for A&P to leverage its strong history of supporting wave, tidal and offshore wind developments in Great Yarmouth, as well as wider energy projects, and a real appetite for the whole host of ship repair and conversion expertise that A&P offers. I’m confident of a very strong response from the local market.”Both Mills and Bezant will be based in A&P’s new on-site office at Peel Ports Great Yarmouth.To remind, A&P Group formed a strategic partnership with A&P Group in June 2017 to boost the services for the offshore energy sector in the East of England.last_img read more

first_imgMORE: Ranking March Madness’ finest momentsIf you’re interested, I’ll share some of what made the first 29 special to me — and rank them in order of which was the most special (so far).29. 2011: Houston, Reliant Stadium​Champion: ConnecticutSingular memory: The media weren’t the only people stashed at the disgusting media hotel. Members of the VCU pep band were placed there as well, and anyone at all concerned with getting a decent night’s sleep had no chance. Hotel security evinced no interest in stopping the frat party going on in their courtyard. At 4:30 a.m., several of these young people loaded the balcony of the room adjacent to mine and amped up the noise quotient. The following day, when it looked as though VCU had fallen too far behind to catch up, it occurred to me that at least this would mean the traveling party would pack up and head home and I might be able to sleep the night before the title game. Nope. They stayed. And they rocked and rolled all night.28. 2017: Phoenix, University of Phoenix StadiumChampion: North CarolinaSingular memory: Let’s be honest here. Most of what I remember is being on a bus — or, on one of the trips out to the stadium, in a car when Dennis Dodds of CBS Sports offered a lift. Final Fours in places like this suck so much of the joy from the event. The one plus was the terrific operation in the media workroom; Doug Tammaro of Arizona State was there whenever needed. I covered Doug as a high school point guard in Ellwood City, Pa., where his biggest claim to fame was defending star Sean Miller as Ellwood City upset Blackhawk in the state tournament.27. 2014: Dallas, AT&T StadiumChampion: ConnecticutSingular memory: Jimmy Jackson had been my partner along with host Dave Revsine on our weekly show “Big Ten Basketball and Beyond” on BTN for four seasons when his son, Traevon, led the Wisconsin Badgers to the Final Four. In the national semifinals, Wisconsin and Kentucky were tied with 16 seconds left and Traevon was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He missed the first free throw, then made the next two. But nine seconds later, Wisconsin left a small crack in its defense for UK’s Aaron Harrison, and he nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Wildcats ahead a point. Traevon got the last shot but couldn’t connect. I saw Jimmy in the stadium tunnel later, discussing what had occurred with his son. That was a moment I would not interrupt.26. 2009: Detroit, Ford FieldChampion: North CarolinaSingular memory: Sporting News recognized Tyler Hansbrough’s excellence before many in the media and thus were the only outlet to name him first-team All-America all four years of his college career. Four-time first-teamers are more rare even than undefeated NCAA champions. This connection gave us a special appreciation for his college career, so it was nice to see his dedication to the college game rewarded with a dominant Tar Heels performance in the title game against Michigan State — a game that easily could have been a 30-point victory. In the final minutes, when UNC coach Roy Williams pulled his starters for a final ovation, Hansbrough came across the sideline and gave Williams a hug with such force it nearly drove the coach over the edge of the elevated court. It probably would have hurt, but not in that moment.25. 1990: Denver, McNichols Arena​Champion: UNLVSingular memory: CBS chose to release on the morning of the title game that Brent Musberger was being replaced as the lead announcer for its college basketball telecasts. The timing was curious and awkward and, given Musberger’s prominence, threatened to overshadow the more important event involving UNLV and Duke. Of course, as we know, that horrible game — one of the worst title games ever played — needed all the overshadowing it could get.24. 2016: Houston, NRG StadiumChampion: VillanovaSingular memory: I was right there for Kris Jenkins’ shot. The amazing acrobatics of the shot Marcus Paige had made for North Carolina to tie the game with six seconds left happened at the opposite end of the court. It was an amazing play, and it seemed sure that would send the game into overtime. Then Villanova ran a play I’d seen once before, when Western Kentucky beat Drake in the 2008 tournament: Point guard advances the ball, shooter trails, point guard turns and drops a short pass and the shooter steps into a 3-pointer. When Ryan Arcidiacono turned and pitched the ball to Jenkins, it was all directly above where I was sitting at courtside. When the ball went through, I turned and caught the eye of Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. Our jaws were dropped. I don’t think either of us yelled Yahoo! or anything. I certainly would have enjoyed another five minutes of that game. But you don’t see something like that every year.MORE: Ranking best buzzer-beaters in NCAA Tournament history23. 2000: Indianapolis, RCA DomeChampion: Michigan StateSingular memory: Mateen Cleaves’ brand of point guard play never quite worked at the professional level, but it could not have been more effective against collegians. Cleaves ranks as one of the finest point guards ever to play NCAA basketball, a two-time first-team All-American who would have made it three if not for an injury that truncated his senior season. When he twisted his ankle in the second half of the title game, it seemed as though the Spartans might be overtaken without him in the game. He went back in the tunnel underneath the stands with the MSU trainer and worked to get it loose, and when he dashed back into the arena the roar from the Spartans’ cheering section was overwhelming. It was like magic.22. 2002: Atlanta, Georgia Dome​Champion: MarylandSingular memory: The one thing I recall well is that Indiana guard Dane Fife spent nearly all of the title game making Juan Dixon insignificant until Dixon finally shook free about midway through the second half and busted a 3-pointer. And it was like he’d unlocked a secret: Dixon controlled the rest of the championship game and delivered Gary Williams and the Terps their only title.21. 2015: Indianapolis, Lucas Oil StadiumChampion: DukeSingular memory: This was a unique Final Four. It was my first ever with three “home games.” I’d moved to Indy the previous autumn, so the company saved a bunch on hotel costs and I commuted from home. It didn’t feel at all like I was part of the Final Four. There were two great things about it: seeing my wife each day, and an interview I happened to catch on Sirius/XM’s Broadway channel with singer Josh Groban. He described leaving Carnegie Mellon after a single semester because he’d been offered the chance to record an album with legendary producer David Foster. And so I became the only sportswriter in history to cite Josh Groban’s experience in a column about basketball “one-and-dones.”20. 2006: Indianapolis, RCA Dome​Champion: FloridaSingular memory: On the Sunday night before the championship game, I was at a dinner at Palomino in downtown Indianapolis with a group of writers from ESPN. We were at our table inside when someone announced that no one was to leave the restaurant — a tornado was rolling through the city. No joke. There was only a bit of damage around downtown, but it was a serious tornado, something that was reinforced when I drove home toward Cincinnati on Interstate 74 on the day after the title game. Over the first several miles on the highway I could see trees down, equipment overturned, houses damaged. It was a dreadful sight.19. 1998: San Antonio, AlamodomeChampion: KentuckySingular memory: The picture that sticks in my mind is of Rick Majerus leaving the court after his Utah Utes had defeated North Carolina in the national semifinals. He’d done all the on-court CBS interviews and was held up just long enough that when he was leaving through the tunnel the teams took from the court he intersected with the queue of reporters waiting to be allowed to move toward the locker rooms. Majerus saw one of his friends among the media and stopped and gave the guy a hug. I’d never seen that before.18. 2003: New Orleans, Superdome​Champion: SyracuseSingular memory: It is amazing how far, how fast one can advance in this game. In 1998, I was covering the Cincinnati Bearcats for the Cincinnati Enquirer and their first-round assignment was in Boise against Northern Arizona, coached by Ben Howland. Long after NAU had tortured Cincinnati with a dazzling game plan, I was heading into the restroom and bumped into Howland as he exited. I introduced myself. He was very down, of course, but I told him what I saw convinced me that he’d get as much personally out of losing that game as he would have winning it. Now, in New Orleans, I needed a column for Sporting News magazine and saw Howland in the stands behind press row. He invited me to sit with him and watch some of Texas-Syracuse. And we talked about how, five years from the day we’d met, he’d become head coach at UCLA.MORE: ’40 Minutes of Hell’ to hog heaven17. 1994: Charlotte, Charlotte ColiseumChampion: ArkansasSingular memory: As someone who came of age with a passion for basketball, I always suspected the game would truly become established on the same level as older sports such as baseball and football. In my view, that officially arrived on the day President Bill Clinton attended the NCAA championship game between his Arkansas Razorbacks and the Duke Blue Devils. It made it tough for all of us to get inside the arena because of the extra security, but it was a thrill to see him down on the floor as Arkansas cut down the nets following its victory.16. 2013: Atlanta, Georgia DomeChampion: LouisvilleSingular memory: On the Thursday of Final Four week, there now are interviews available with the starters from the various teams in small breakout rooms. I took a cab from the downtown hotel over to the Georgia Dome, where I’ve covered about a dozen basketball events, and was left off where the typical media entrance had been for big events, where I expected to pick up my credentials. Nobody home. I went to the opposite side of the building, where the Champions Classic entrance had been. Nothing. I asked around and was pointed toward the Georgia World Congress Center. Do you know how big the World Congress Center is? About as big as the world. I went all over that place, couldn’t find a soul associated with the Final Four. Finally I bumped into someone who told me where to pick up credentials: back at the hotel. Such a fun day.15. 2018: San Antonio, AlamodomeChampion: VillanovaSingular memory: OK, going to brag a little. With Michigan involved in the Final Four, BTN was on location with a set just behind the Marriott Riverwalk. On the day of the championship game between the Wildcats and Wolverines, I was part of the pregame show. One of the questions we discussed was a hidden key to the game, something that might easily be overlooked. I came up with mine: Villanova sixth man Donte DiVincenzo. I thought he could be a difference-maker because it would be so much work for UM to cope with the Villanova starters. So I said that. He nailed five 3-pointers, scored 31 points and was named Most Outstanding Player.14. 2004: San Antonio, AlamodomeChampion: ConnecticutSingular memory: Everyone in the college basketball media picked UConn to win the championship that year. There might have been only one dissenter: Sporting News. With 3:28 left in the national semis, Chris Duhon hit a pair of free throws to put Duke ahead by 8 and then a television timeout commenced. SN had correctly picked the champion from 1999-2001, and I sat there thinking: We’re going to do it again. And we’re going to be the only ones. Then Shavlik Randolph fouled out, joining Shelden Williams on the bench. Duke’s only remaining big man was Nick Horvath, and he was overmatched against Emeka Okafor. Down the stretch, Okafor scored five as the Huskies rang up 12 unanswered points and won the game. As it turned out, we were about the only ones that got it wrong.13. 1995: Seattle, KingdomeChampion: UCLASingular memory: As we all filed into the press room prior to the national semifinals, dumping our bags on the tables and getting prepared for the evening’s work, I noticed a familiar gentleman seated by himself a few tables over at the end. A roomful of reporters, and nobody was talking to Jack Nicholson. Seriously? I wasn’t passing that up. If he was going to be in a media room, he was dealing with the media. I went over and said hello and started asking why he was there — UCLA, of course — and how much he followed college basketball given his confirmed devotion to the NBA. After a few moments, we weren’t alone, but it never got crazy-crowded around him. Eventually whoever was arranging for his seats or pass or whatever came and got him. If it weren’t for Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela, Nicholson might rank as the most famous person I’ve interviewed.SN REMEMBERS:March Madness heartbreakers | Best March Madness memories12. 1997: Indianapolis, RCA Dome​Champion: ArizonaSingular memory: Andy Katz and I had taken to hanging around at most Final Fours by that point, and we were wandering around about 2 a.m. on Thursday when we decided to take one last stroll through the coaches’ hotel to see who might be working the lobby. The coaches’ convention is held at every Final Four, and coaches hang around the hotel talking shop, trying to make connections and, most often, literally lobbying for new jobs. It’s a great place to find industry gossip. I was just finishing my first season covering Bob Huggins’ Bearcats for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Katz had moved on from Albuquerque to cover Jerry Tarkanian’s Fresno State Bulldogs for the Fresno Bee. And who were the only coaches still in the lobby when the two of us walked in? Bob Huggins and Jerry Tarkanian. It was such a weird coincidence.11. 2008: San Antonio, Alamodome​Champion: KansasSingular memory: As part of my prep for the magazine story that would run in Sporting News if Memphis won, John Calipari allowed me to sit in on the video session assembled to take a first look at the team the Tigers would be playing in the championship game: the Kansas Jayhawks. Members of his staff were there, as well as a few coaching friends, including Tom Crean, newly appointed at Indiana. It was a fascinating scene. The room was huge. Way bigger than it needed to be. It was painfully late, past 2 and on toward 3 or 3:30 a.m. And when it was over one of the coaches was staying up the Riverwalk at a different hotel — Memphis’ hotel was near the very end — so Calipari and his staff decided to walk him up just to get some fresh air and exchange a few ideas on the way. All of us were sober, but it was so dark I kept thinking one of us would fall in the canal.MORE: 10 years later, Mario Chalmers’ shot still resonates10. 2010: Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium​Champion: DukeSingular memory: Who can ever forget what it felt like to see that ball in the air? It seemed like there would be almost no chance for Butler to steal the game after Brian Zoubek was fouled with 3 seconds left and Duke up a point. He made the first free throw, missed the second so that the Bulldogs couldn’t inbound and set up a play for a game-tying three. But Gordon Hayward rebounded, dribbled to near midcourt and launched the shot. All of this was happening directly above me. I was seated just to the left of the CBS broadcast position, so Hayward was literally a few feet above my head when heaved the 3-point attempt. Because the court was elevated it was hard to tell at first if it was on line. But it seemed to have a chance. That ball seemed to float in the air forever. If the shot landed, Butler would become the most improbable NCAA champ ever. We know what happened. But that always will remain the most suspenseful few seconds in tournament history.9. 1999: Tampa-St. Petersburg, Tropicana Field​Champion: ConnecticutSingular memory: There are lots of parties at the Final Four sponsored by various companies, and one of the biggies belongs to CBS. I can’t remember if it was their party that I, Katz and Ed Graney (now with the Las Vegas Review-Journal) crashed/attended. I’m pretty sure Kevin Costner was more welcomed than we were. As Graney and I tried to drift into his circle just to see what it was like to be around a movie star holding court, we wound up being more entertained by watching Katz chatting up every single person in the place with an ESPN connection as he tried to lobby his way from contributor to full-timer. (Hey, it worked.)8. 1992: Minneapolis, MetrodomeChampion: DukeSingular memory: It wasn’t unusual for me to be among the last people working in a press room at the Final Four. I worked at an afternoon newspaper, so I had later deadlines, and I cared enough to make sure I got everything done right. I left the Metrodome and walked out to the shuttle stop pretty late on Friday evening after writing advance copy for Saturday’s games. I stood there for what seemed like forever with another guy, and we started to talk. Eventually we gave up on the ridiculously tardy media shuttle and decided to catch a cab back to the hotel. The guy, Andy Katz, almost immediately became one of my closest friends and helped me through the closing of The Pittsburgh Press, the darkest period of my career. A couple years later, I attended his wedding in New Mexico; he and Denise will celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. By the end of the decade, I was writing for Sporting News and he was at ESPN. There’s no question observing his work ethic and passion pushed me to improve.7. 2007: Atlanta, Georgia Dome​Champion: FloridaSingular memory: There’ve been times at various Final Fours when the advertising team at Sporting News would arrange for dinners with clients, and I’d be asked to invite a coach to the dinner. It never hurts to have a celebrity in the room. So for this one I invited Sean Miller, then finishing his third year at Xavier. I walked over to his hotel and we rode in a cab together. And when we got to the restaurant out near Buckhead, I went to pay — but the cabbie wouldn’t take a credit card. And I didn’t have any cash. So I had to borrow the money off Sean. That was terribly embarrassing, and I wanted to get the money back for him as quickly as possible. I asked the host when we walked in if there was a bank around, and he said there was one up the block. I got Sean settled in the dining room and introduced him to a few people, then excused myself and hustled up to the bank. The ATM was broken. I started walking in the hopes I’d find another, and I had to go what seemed a half-mile before I found a shopping center that had a grocery store with an ATM. I got the money, ran back through the heat of an Atlanta dusk and arrived in the dining room covered in sweat. But I gave Sean his money back.6. 2005: St. Louis, Edward Jones Dome​Champion: North CarolinaSingular memory: For all my travels during the course of the regular season and the NCAA Tournament, I carry two bags: my suitcase or garment bag, and a computer bag. The Final Four is different. Because I’m visiting for six days, I need an extra case. This can cause problems, because if you’re used to wheeling two bags it feels natural to wheel two bags — even if you’re supposed to be in possession of three. So I got to talking to my friend Steve Carp on the shuttle from the airport, and I departed the bus and checked into the hotel and went up to my room and got ready to write — and I had no computer. I had no computer because I had no computer bag. I’d put it in the overhead bin on the shuttle bus and left it there. Now, the beauty of something as precisely organized as the Final Four is that if you can provide a few details about what your driver looked like and when you arrived, the volunteers can get on their walkie-talkies and track down your bag. I sweated all afternoon and then about five hours later the bus driver returned to the hotel with my bag. And the coda to the story: I made the exact same mistake for the exact same reason in Houston six years later, and I got the bag back again.5. 2001: Minneapolis, MetrodomeChampion: DukeSingular memory: I had written Sporting News columns as a side gig for five years, and this was my first Final Four as a full-time staffer. The editors at SN were pleased enough with my freelance work to offer me a job, and that certainly was flattering, and I was treated with respect by coaches I regularly came in contact with: the Big East from my Pitt days, the Great Midwest and Conference USA guys. But I hadn’t had much interaction with some of the game’s biggest names. I’d not yet had a private interview with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, for instance. So after the championship game and Duke had won its third title, I walked down the hallway from the locker room toward the press area and passed a golf cart carrying Coach K back to his players. I saw him and said, “Congratulations, Coach.” He said, “Thanks, Mike.” I don’t want you to think this was some star-struck thing. It was nothing like that. It was that I was making enough of an impact with my writing that he’d notice without having met me. It meant I was doing something right.MORE: Ranking the 80 greatest upsets in Tournament history4. 1996: New York, Continental Airlines ArenaChampion: KentuckySingular memory: This was the one and only time I covered the College Slam Dunk & Three-Point Championships, staged by Intersport. I was assigned because Memphis forward Michael Wilson — who’d later become the high-flying “Wild Thing” of the Harlem Globetrotters — was competing. Problem was, it was being staged at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gymnasium. That was a $55 cab ride — or $82 today. I’m a conscientious business traveler, but I had to get there. And I had to get back. After the event, however, there was essentially no way to get a return cab. There was no cab stand with taxis waiting to ferry dopes like me back to Times Square. So one of the organizers took pity on me and allowed me to hop on the bus that was carrying the participants back. It was so overcrowded that players such as Chris Collins of Duke and Dante Calabria of North Carolina couldn’t find seats. So I surely wasn’t going to sit. We stood the whole ride back and chatted about basketball. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every year when I walk into the arena to cover the Final Four — on semifinal Saturday and championship Monday both — I say a short prayer of thanks for being allowed to do this another year. I recognize how blessed I am to be covering college basketball for Sporting News.I’ll be 30 times blessed this week when I arrive in Minneapolis. This will be the 30th Final Four I’ve covered, from The Pittsburgh Press to the Commercial Appeal of Memphis to the Cincinnati Enquirer to SN. Each of the 29 before it contained some magnificent basketball, some lively debates about the game that lasted deep into the night and some deeply personal memories. 3. 2012: New Orleans, SuperdomeChampion: KentuckySingular memory: This was the year I was inducted into the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame. The Monday morning ceremony was lovely, attended by my Sporting News colleague David Steele and several other friends from the industry. But the most special part of the weekend was this became only the second of all the Final Fours I’ve covered that my wife attended. She arranged for a special celebratory dinner at Shula’s Steak House — she’s been married to me for three decades, so she knows — and my closest friend, Tom Dias, came all the way from Pittsburgh to join us. She had the staff make up a special desert that had “Congrats Hall of Famer!” written on the plate in chocolate. Hard to beat all that.2. 1988: Kansas City, Kemper Arena​Champion: KansasSingular memory: The memory here was of the anticipation. This was the first Final Four I ever covered. I had spent most of my 20s trying to improve enough as a reporter that I would be assigned to a college basketball beat. My bosses knew it was what I wanted, so they held it out until I’d proved enough covering high schools and Penn State football. Heck, I was getting championship fights like Spinks-Tyson, but they wouldn’t let me have college hoops until I was ready. And they were right. The week of the Final Four, however, my father’s closest friend passed away. I’d grown up going to high school basketball games with Bob Carothers and my father in the front seat, and me in the back — with my brother Pat in the early days, and then going to watch Pat play when he was on the high school team. Mr. Carothers had a front-row seat, literally, as I fell in love with the game. I remember how excited some of the visitors at the funeral home were that I’d be leaving for the Final Four the next day. Wish he’d been there to see that, too.1. 1991: Indianapolis, RCA DomeChampion: DukeSingular memory: How good is your Final Four if Kansas-North Carolina is the undercard game? As much glamour appeal as that one had, it was the Duke-Vegas game we all wanted to see. This was right in the heart of a major recession, so The Pittsburgh Press had told me it couldn’t send me to the Final Four. It wasn’t a long drive from Pittsburgh to Indy, so I asked if they’d let me count it as work days and publish my material if I paid for the trip myself. They signed off on that. So I had a little freedom to decide that I was going to just cruise on the first game — a running story that I’d top off with some quotes so I could concentrate on the huge nightcap game. Then Pete Pavia threw Dean Smith out of the game against Kansas — for leaving the coach’s box to ask how much time he had to sub for a disqualified player, as it turned out. Well, I was on my dime, but I still was a reporter. So there was no way to ignore that. It had to be covered. Instead of being in my seat and focused on Duke-UNLV, the first half of one of the great college games ever played essentially went on without me. At least I got to see all the good stuff at the end.last_img read more