- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. At least Dan Dickau and his Gonzaga teammates caught one break in the NCAA West Region bracket: They can sleep through Morning Madness.

Then again, they probably would prefer to play at the crack of dawn.

"It'd be great. You'd wake up, get right on the court and get going," Dickau said yesterday before practice. "You wouldn't have to sit around all day, thinking about the game."

With his mop-top flying, shooting from all angles and scoring more than 20 points a game, Dickau might be the most enjoyable college player to watch. The senior guard was picked for the All-America team this week.

"It's more a reflection of this team," he said. "People see that we play with passion and with a love for the game. I think that's why people identify with us and support us. I noticed it a little more this year. We had people rooting for us wherever we played."

Dickau and his Zags will have to wait before facing Wyoming today in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Because while they're shutting off their alarm clocks, Missouri and Miami already will be dealing with shot clocks. Local tipoff time at the Pit for the Tigers-Hurricanes first-round game: 10:40 a.m.

"I've been kidding them, 'You better win or no one's even going to know you were in the tournament.'" Missouri coach Quin Snyder said yesterday. "People will get up for breakfast [and ask], 'Was Missouri in the tournament?'"

The early start, set up to help coordinate television coverage across the country, startled Miami guard John Salmons.

"When I first heard it, I was kind of surprised," Salmons said. "I didn't know it was even possible to play at 10:40 in the morning."

No.4-seeded Ohio State (23-7) and Davidson (21-9) will follow that game, and then comes the night session with the players and teams sure to draw the most national attention. Dickau leads Gonzaga (29-3) against Wyoming (21-8), before No.3-seeded Arizona (22-9) plays UC Santa Barbara (20-10).

Chances are all eyes will be on Dickau.

"I think he epitomizes the best side of the NCAA tournament," Snyder said. "He's what this time of year is all about."

Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien agreed, having seen Dickau on TV and in person at tryouts this summer for the World University Games.

"I don't think it takes long being around him to tell that he's a special player," O'Brien said. "He's kind of like the boy-next-door, too. Everybody's rooting for him."

Well, maybe not everyone is so taken with Dickau and the Zags.

Despite finishing ranked No.6 in the nation and its recent NCAA tournament success, Gonzaga drew only a sixth seed in the West. The Zags, Duke and Michigan State are the lone teams to reach the round of 16 in each of the last three years.

Perhaps the tournament committee didn't see enough of Gonzaga. After all, the Zags don't usually make a lot of TV appearances until March. Salmons, whose Miami team will share the same locker room as Gonzaga, admitted he had hardly seen Dickau. Ditto for Davidson coach Bob McKillop.

"I know about his reputation, but I haven't been able to watch their games. Is he like Hank Luisetti with his jump shot?" McKillop said, a joking reference to the Stanford star of the late 1930s.

Certainly Salmons or McKillop would like to face Dickau later in the tournament. That couldn't happen until the West final in San Jose, Calif.

For now, Miami (24-7) has other things to think about, such as getting up for its breakfast matchup against Missouri (21-11).

"Not a college game. I've played a few pickup games at 10:40 in the morning," said Hurricanes coach Perry Clark.

Snyder was looking ahead to Thursday's pregame shootaround. It starts yikes! at 7 a.m.

"We'll get them pumped up with coffee and go," he said.

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