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The success of that game helped the Astrodome earn the chance to host the 1971 Final Four and led to the increased use of domed stadiums for major basketball tournaments.


TAKING A DIVE: VCU’s coaching staff got a rousing ovation from the fans inside Reliant Stadium when they started a drill that had them taking charges, diving on the floor for loose balls and sprinting across the court to save a ball that was heading out of bounds.

It’s called the Iron Man drill, and all the Rams assistants took part.

Coach Shaka Smart was the last to go, jumping up and down as he waited his turn to leave the man he was guarding and dart across the lane to take a charge, race toward the midcourt line and dive to save a ball from going out of bounds, then race across court again to tap a ball back into play. When finished, he was surrounded by players offering congratulations.

“It’s a drill we do pretty regularly with our team,” he explained later. “We’ve been talking about how important some of the defensive things are to the game tomorrow night.

“Our coaches figured we would step in and put our bodies where our mouth is.”

The drill was a hit with the crowd, but not so much for assistant Mike Jones.

He needed four stitches to close a cut on his right elbow.


PERFECT VISION: Butler coach Brad Stevens swears his glasses are more about being able to see than superstition.

Stevens was forced to ditch his too-tight contacts and switch to glasses after being diagnosed with a swollen cornea in late February. Though he has joked that he continues to wear the wire-rimmed glasses because they’re undefeated, there’s a more practical _ and boring _ explanation for why he looks as if he’s working in Eli Lilly’s marketing department again.

“I’m not going to go to contacts this week,” Stevens said Friday. “I haven’t had time to go get new contacts. I haven’t had time to go take care of them.”

Stevens has had a bit going on. His Bulldogs have won 13 straight and are in the Final Four for the second year in a row. Butler plays VCU in the national semifinals Saturday night.

“I’m wearing the glasses so I can see,” Stevens said. “I have found that I’m a better coach when I can see than when I can’t.”

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