Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2007

Championship celebration worthy of pricey wine

March 22, 2007

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Brent Pierce makes a living selling collectible wines for as much as $10,000 per bottle.

So the co-owner of Blicker Pierce Wine Merchants, who attended Kansas University in the late '80s and early '90s, couldn't help but offer a few industry-inspired descriptions for the 2007 vintage of KU hoops:

¢ The team: "A lot of people might say smooth. It's plush and velvety and whatnot. Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush's jump shot would be silky smooth."

¢ Sherron Collins: "He'd be a full-bodied, robust red. 'Mammoth' is a word I would use, occasionally, when a wine is really just strong, with tons of tannin and you say, 'It's a beast.' That would be Darrell Arthur, too."

¢ Sasha Kaun: "He would be a robust, broad-shouldered red wine."

Pierce said he was confident that KU would win the NCAA Tournament's West regional in San Jose and advance to the Final Four.

Success in Atlanta would mean uncorking a bottle of 2003 Sine Qua Non, a Syrah from southern California that comes with an exclusive artist's label and a wine that would be worthy of a championship celebration.

"It's a fun experience, a fun wine to drink," he said.

¢KU connections: Of course Josh Harper is a die-hard Kansas fan.

He's a senior at Chico State University, home of the NCAA Division II Wildcats and a good two and a half hours north of San Jose.

He's never lived in Kansas.

And the only family relation who has: his uncle Chad, who grew up in Topeka.

"I've always been a Jayhawk," Josh Harper said. "It's a family tradition."

He says it's too easy to be a Duke fan or a North Carolina fan, making it all the better to boast on behalf of the crimson and blue. He knows plenty of fellow Californians who have embraced the Jayhawks, and is counting on many more climbing on the bandwagon this week at the HP Pavilion.

This is Stanford and California country, after all. A supposed horde of UCLA fans making the trip upstate will have their hands full, he said, should a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup materialize for Saturday.

"We're always like an underdog," he said.

Harper, by the way, managed to score tickets to attend the Florida game earlier this year in Las Vegas, and during his only visit to Allen Fieldhouse - for an exhibition game against the EA Sports All-Stars - he landed about the best seats available.

"It sucked because I was on the visiting bench," Harper said, securing the seat thanks to his high school coach, who was on the EA staff, "but I was wearing my KU shirt underneath my button-down. Always a KU fan."

¢Hello, Danny: Meg Bugg didn't bother watching the players so much at KU's practice Wednesday.

She had her eyes focused on the team's newest assistant coach: Danny Manning.

"I'm still starstruck by him," she said.

It's understandable. Bugg enrolled at KU in the fall of 1987, and by the end of her second semester, the team had a national championship.

"Every year since then has been a letdown," she said. "You start out your freshman year with a national championship, and you think that's what everybody's experience is."

Now, as an admissions officer for a Catholic school in the St. Louis area, Bugg is in the Bay Area for spring break. And she's taking that as a good sign.

She's in the building. Manning's in the building.

National title?

"It's our time," she said. "That's back to my roots."

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