East Regional Friday notebook: Barber hampered by illness

The N.C. State sharpshooter dealt with an ailing stomach, while Michigan State squeezed in a few laughs before the big game.

As Louisville and North Carolina State battled each other on the court, the Wolfpack’s Anthony “Cat” Barber and Louisville’s Terry Rozier were battling their own bodies. 

Both Barber and Rozier were significantly ill the night before and hours leading up to their clash in the East Regional semifinal at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. 

Barber, one of N.C. State’s potent backcourt shooters, showed violent symptoms of a stomach virus according to head coach Mark Gottfried. 

“Last night — it’s unfortunate these things happen, for whatever reason,” Gottfried said. “(Barber) gets a virus. He spends all last night throwing up, got diarrhea, can’t sleep, can’t eat. He had no energy today.” 

Barber shot 3-of-14 from the field and scored only eight points. 

Rozier, meanwhile, was spraying Afrin to breathe more easily during the game, but it didn't stop him from pulling down 14 rebounds (double that of teammate Montrezl Harrell) and helping the Cardinals surge to a 75-65 victory. 

“He had a terrible cold,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. “All season long, Rozier has been a great rebounder, and tonight he’s got 14. So the surprise of March Madness… I look so forward to this time of year.” 

Get Soft? 

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo knew his team would have a lot of time to kill before tip time against Oklahoma Friday night. So while he was having breakfast with a couple of his captains, he suggested they watch film. 

But not game film. The new comedy film “Get Hard” starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. 

“Will Ferrell had visited our place a few years ago,” Izzo said. “Last year, I sat with Kevin Hart at the UConn game.  So I said, ‘This could be a good omen.’ So they went. 

“I said, ‘If we lose, we’ll never do it again. If we win, hell, we might go to the movies tomorrow. I don’t know.’” 

Izzo stayed behind, but figured the lighthearted nature of the film would help his players stay loose for the game. He said in past tournaments, he felt me had mismanaged the team’s free time, and so he is re-evaluating ways to give the players more rest and his staff more time to work. 

It appeared the plan might backfire, as the Spartans fell behind in the first half with sluggish play. However, strong second halves by Denzel Valentine and Travis Trice propelled them to a win over the Sooners. 

“(The tournament) is tough on a player,” Izzo said. “I understand why. I tell them they can sleep all summer. Don’t worry about that.” 

Bahamas Buddies 

Michigan State’s tilt with Oklahoma was of key interest to residents in The Bahamas, as two hometown heroes took the court at the same time. 

The Sooners’ Buddy Hield and Spartans’ Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. are from Freeport and Nassau, respectively. The pair became teammates and close friends at Sunrise Christian Academy (Kansas) in 2011, and they continue to communicate via text. 

So when Nairn emerged victorious, Hield greeted him with a message in the post-game handshake line. 

“Go win it all,” Hield said. “I feel like since they beat us, we’re not the only team they can beat. So go win it all.” 

Hield said the exposure he received as Oklahoma’s leading scorer this season did a lot for aspiring Bahamian basketball players, and that he always tells them to keep working hard because anything is possible. 

Nairn has admitted that Hield often emerged victorious in their one-on-one battles at Sunrise, but that wasn’t exactly the case Friday. Despite scoring 21 points, Hield couldn’t lead the Sooners to victory. 

“We just made him take tough shots,” Nairn said. “I just tried to make it tough on him to score.”

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.