2008 NCAA Tournament
Final Four tip-off special
Ryan Greene, D.J. Whetter and Kevin Romary hit the studio before heading down to San Antonio to talk about the Roy Williams connection, the Bill Self-OSU rumors that never seem to want to die, who to like in the weekend's other semifinal and the weekly trivia. Oh yeah, and analysis of Saturday's nightcap between the Jayhawks and Tar Heels.
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San Antonio Jerod Haase, who has worked at the University of North Carolina for five seasons, still has great affection for his alma mater, Kansas University.
"If anybody says I don't like Kansas, it would bother me, because my son is named 'Lawrence,'" UNC assistant basketball coach Haase said Wednesday before boarding a charter flight to Texas, site of Saturday's 7:47 p.m. NCAA Final Four semifinal game between his current school and former school.
Haase and his wife, Mindy, have one child - 18-month-old Gavin Lawrence Haase - whose middle name honors the city Jerod called home from 1994 to '97.
"I think you can be both," Haase said of having allegiances to both UNC and KU. "If you ask me where I call home it would be (South) Lake Tahoe (Calif., his hometown). But I also feel at home in Lawrence, Kan., and Chapel Hill, N.C.
"I played at Kansas. I think the world of the program, university and the state," added the 34-year-old Haase, who helped lead the Jayhawks to three consecutive conference titles and finished his career ranked in the Top 10 among school leaders in assists, three-point field goals and steals.
He started 99 of 101 games at off guard at Kansas and scored 1,264 points, an average of 12.5 per game. Haase scored in double figures 74 times, including 20 or more points 13 times.
"It doesn't make to be an easy situation (Saturday), yet I am close to the guys here, the ones we recruited. When it's tipped up, I'll do all I can to help Carolina," Haase said.
So will another UNC staff member with some mixed emotions - director of basketball operations C.B. McGrath, who played guard at KU from 1994 to '98.
"I think once the game gets here, it will be strange to hear the (KU) fight song and alma mater. I've not been at a Kansas game since I left," said former Topeka West standout McGrath, who yearly switches jobs with Haase.
This season the 32-year-old McGrath has an administrative role, while Haase sits on the bench as an assistant coach. Last year it was just the opposite.
"Hearing the Rock Chalk chant and stuff will bring back great memories. It's a different feel for me now, because I'm so focused (on North Carolina). This is my job," said McGrath, who at KU played in 112 career games, scoring 82 points with 113 assists and 35 steals. He had 61 assists against 24 turnovers his senior campaign when he was a captain with Raef LaFrentz and Billy Thomas.
McGrath - he and wife Kris have twin 19-month-old daughters Kate and Addison - still has a batch of relatives in Kansas, including his parents, who reside in Topeka.
"They (parents) watch Kansas games. They watch every North Carolina game they can or come out and watch in person," McGrath said. "They will be at the game. They'll want North Carolina to win. That is my livelihood."
Like Haase, who said "absolutely" when asked if he wants KU to win the national title every year if Carolina can't - McGrath wants it made known he remains a Jayhawk.
"I still root for Kansas," McGrath said. "I don't have time to follow them anymore. Ever since I've been in college I've been part of the basketball world. You take the fan aspect away. Right now I'm so entrenched in the job. But when I see the ticker and they win, I'm happy."
Both Haase and McGrath say they want to follow in Williams' footsteps as head coaches someday.
"I talked to coach Williams about this," Haase said. "I can be real anxious to be a head coach, which I want to be, or be patient. Right now I'm patient. I don't know if I'll get the opportunity, but I would like to be a head coach."
Noted McGrath: "Jerod and I have been rotating. If you are at the University of North Carolina, it's a great thing to do. If you were at a small Div. I school would you want to rotate every year? Probably not. I work for coach Williams, who is great to work for. I enjoy my job a lot."