Peach Jam notebook: Jokester coaches

July, 13, 2011
7/13/11
6:58
PM ET
A few more news and notes from the EYBL Peach Jam ...

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- With so much time on their hands, coaches can’t help but sit around telling stories while they watch the endless march of games. Usually the tales revolve around basketball.

Unless it’s Rick Barnes.

With Barnes, the conversation inevitably turns to practical jokes. The Texas coach takes pride on pulling fast ones over other coaches, friends and even his players.

“He’ll take a guy's phone and change the language to Chinese or one time he took a phone and took it apart. Handed it back in pieces,’’ UT assistant coach Russell Springmann said.

Asking Barnes to come up with a top-five list is nearly impossible, but he does proudly recall a prank pulled on P.J. Carlesimo. The two were playing golf and Carlesimo saw a dead mouse off the green. He placed the mouse in the hole so when Barnes went to reach for his golf ball, he grabbed the mouse.

“Bad idea,’’ Springmann said. “Never try to get him.’’

“So I get the mouse,’’ Barnes explained, “empty out a sleeve of balls and put the mouse in there and carry it with me for the rest of the day. When we go to lunch, I order two bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches. I eat one and put the mouse in the other and say, ‘Anyone want this? I ordered two but can’t eat it?’ P.J. took it. I didn’t let him bite it. I probably should have.’’

Going home, but not really: On Friday, Ben Howland is flying home. Well, sort of. The UCLA head coach is, indeed, heading back to Southern California but instead of going back to his house, Howland will head to his parents’ place in Santa Barbara.

Why? Carmageddon, as the Los Angeles Times is calling the 55-hour closure of a portion of the 405 Freeway. If you haven’t experienced L.A. traffic, consider yourself lucky. Gridlock doesn’t do it justice. It’s an unpredictable swirling mess of cars, as likely to be jammed at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday as it is at 11 a.m. on a Sunday.

And the portion that is closing runs right near Howland’s house.

“Everybody who knows better is leaving,’’ Howland said. “I think my entire neighborhood will be gone.’’

Tip-ins: Most-packed gym of the day belonged to Gym 1 for the 11:30 game between Team Takeover, the defending EYBL champ that hadn’t lost in two years, and the Georgia Stars. Fans lined the upstairs track that circles the gym and packed into the corners while the coaches grabbed every available seat a game loaded with talent: Team Takeover’s Jerami Grant (42nd in the ESPNU 100), Arnaud Moto (53rd), James Robinson (74th), and the Stars’ Tony Parker (25th) and Marcus Hunt (78th). The game didn’t disappoint. Jaron Blossomgame, a Clemson commit, hit one of two free throws to win the game for the hometown stars and hand Team Takeover its first loss. … Asked if he had the iPads favored by so many of his peers, Illinois coach Bruce Weber laughed. “I just got an iPhone and I don’t know how to work it,’’ he said. “But hey, I think Izzo still has a flip phone.’’

Dana O'Neil | email

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