ST. LOUIS -- North Carolina's Raymond Felton was a winner
before the NCAA championship game began on Monday, receiving the
Bob Cousy Award as the top college point guard.
Felton got 11 of the 23 first-place votes, with Chris Paul of
Wake Forest and Travis Diener of Marquette finishing second and
third, respectively. Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's was the
inaugural winner of the award last year.
"A pure point guard is an extension of his coach while the game
is in progress, and has more to do with elevating skill level that
possibly any player on the team," Cousy said.
Felton's parents, plus coach Roy Williams, attended the awards
ceremony at the announcement of the Basketball Hall of Fame 2005
class. Felton credited teammates on the receiving end of his
"What can I say?" Felton said. "Without them I wouldn't be
able to receive this award."
The worst part about the worst Final Four
seats in the Edward Jones Dome was the acoustics.
Mark Trampe and his 72-year-old father, David Trampe, of St.
Louis had $110 seats for the Final Four in Section 448, more than
the length of a football field away from the court. They had a
better view of a loading dock and a dozen trailers than they did of
"It's a little strange. You can see the baskets, but then it
takes a few seconds for the noise to bounce up here," Mark Trampe
said. "It takes some getting used to."
Canadians Jerome Ell and Dave Ross were in Section 447, so far
away and at such a bad angle they couldn't see one of the baskets.
"And we don't hear the referees' whistles," Ell said. "We
just have to take their word for it."
Getting food and drinks also was a challenge. The Trampes
attended both games on Saturday night and said no concessionaires
made the steep, demanding walk to serve them.
Still, no one was complaining.
"It's not just about the games," Ell said. "We're here for
the whole experience."
"I just wanted to get in the building," Mark Trampe said. "I
wouldn't have missed this for anything."
The Big One
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who won the 2003
title, had no doubt before the game that North Carolina's Roy
Williams would win a championship. Some day.
But he picked Illinois to keep Williams, making his fifth Final
Four appearance, without a national title.
Whoever won their first title, Williams or Illinois' Bruce
Weber, Boeheim said their life would change forever. On the other
hand, he said it's impossible to please everybody.
"There are always going to be critics, some because of
personality, some because of whatever reason," Boeheim said. "One
guy wrote about me and said how bad of a coach I was and he ended
up saying 'I just don't like the guy.' It's unfortunate, but there
are people like that."
St. Louis' bid
The first Final Four in St. Louis in 27 years
appears to be a success. Members of the local organizing committee
are shooting for the tournament to return as soon as 2012, the
start of the next bid cycle.
"I think we've made a huge statement in terms of proving we're
Final Four-worthy," Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug
Elgin said. "The facility lays out better than any I've seen for a
Final Four. I think people will leave here with a very good taste
in their mouth about our city, and about the way in which the Final
Four was conducted."
Bids on Final Fours for 2112-15 are expected to be made in the
summer of 2006, with decisions made in 2007.
Journalists generally gave the city high marks. Wendell
Barnhouse of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has covered the last 20
Final Fours, and ranked St. Louis at the top with Indianapolis.
"There seems to be a consensus that Indianapolis and St. Louis
are the two best Final Four venues," Barnhouse said. "You can
walk to everything. There are no shuttle buses, no hassles. And
there's been plenty of helpful people."