- Associated Press - Saturday, April 2, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - So much for VCU and Connecticut being worn out by their heavy workloads.

UConn won five games in five nights to claim the Big East title, while Virginia Commonwealth is the first team to win five games to get to the Final Four. Yet neither has shown any ill effects from playing so many games in such short spans.

“It’s all mental,” VCU guard Brandon Rozzell said. “If you believe you’re tired, you are tired. Also, I don’t think we’re done winning games.”

Besides, it’s not as if either team hasn’t gotten some downtime.

UConn’s run through the Big East tournament was three weeks ago, an eternity in the sports world. The Rams’ toughest stretch came two weeks ago, when it won three games in five nights in two different cities. VCU beat Southern California in the “First Four” on Wednesday night, in Dayton, Ohio, then flew to Chicago, arriving in the wee hours of Thursday morning. It then beat Georgetown and Purdue on Friday and Sunday nights.

“When the game starts, leading up to the game, you catch that adrenaline,” UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb said. “You don’t really feel tired, you don’t really feel hurt or anything like that.”

Especially now, when there’s a national title at stake.

“They talk about us being young kids, got endless energy,” said Matt Howard, whose Butler team plays VCU in the first national semifinal Saturday night. “What you’ve seen with UConn and what we’ve seen with VCU, it doesn’t seem like they’re slowing down at all.”

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POOLE‘S DAY?: This isn’t quite the way Kentucky freshman guard Stacey Poole Jr., envisioned his first Final Four.

Yet Poole isn’t complaining, even if he’s become an afterthought. He came to the program last fall part of another ballyhooed recruiting class that included Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb.

Yet, where his three classmates have soared, Poole’s career has stalled. He’s played in just 16 games this season _ one less than walk-on Jarrod Polson _ and hasn’t stepped on the floor during the NCAA tournament.

“The season was a little frustrating,” he said. “It’s always going to be when you’re one of the top players in the country coming out of high school and you’re not playing. But I didn’t get down. I didn’t sulk and pout. I just kept my head up high and enjoyed my teammates.”

Playing time could be just as difficult to come by next season with another heralded recruiting class on the way, but Poole says he’s going to stay at Kentucky.

“I’ve got questions, am I transferring?” he said. “Stuff like that. I love this program. I love my team and the coaching staff. I’m in the Final Four, I’m loving it right now. I’m happy.”

Story Continues →