Blog: The magic and spotlight of the Final Four

Saturday, April 4, 2015
Duke basketball generic

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTVD) -- There's no great recipe or standard guide to follow when it comes to making the Final Four. Ask any player who's been there before, and they'll tell you that the experience -- no matter how many times they've earned it -- is amazing. Even those of us on the outside looking in stop what we're doing (causing productivity levels to plummet) during the month of March to get wrapped up in the Cinderella storylines and fantastic action from the court.

What happens once you make the Final Four, though? Coach K mentioned earlier this week that he wanted his players to keep some sort of semblance of a "humble routine" before they headed to Indianapolis, noting that he didn't want his guys to "change" or get flashy haircuts or tattoos.

It's hard not to get caught up in the hype of the atmosphere, though. Even If you're one of the thousands of fans walking around Indianapolis, you're likely to run into some of the game's top coaches or former star players, like 2010 National champ and Duke star Nolan Smith (a special guest featured on our Duke special Friday night). The celebrities are here, too. Musical artists and groups like Rihanna and Weezer are on hand to perform during Fan Fest activities.

With the big names comes a big stage for current players like AP Player of the Year and Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky and Final Four first-timer and Duke senior Quinn Cook, and while Kentucky has more McDonald's All-Americans than you can count on one hand, even the Wildcats freshmen are in a situation that they previously dreamed of during their high school days. Even Spartans' freshman, Lourawls 'Tum Tum' Nairn Jr., took a moment to soak it all up outside of Michigan State's open practice Friday. Spartans head coach Tom Izzo noted that for the freshman from the Bahamas, "him walking into [Lucas Oil Stadium], it was priceless to see the look on his face."

It's not just the players that get caught up in the moment, though -- the coaches do too.

Even if they've been to this certain spot multiple times in their careers, each trip brings about a new experience. For Krzyzewski and Izzo, though, a feeling of deja vu comes to mind. Both coaches have won national titles in

Indianapolis, and both are handling this year's trip in interesting ways.

Izzo said he's not superstitious. He said, "I don't go for a certain walk, wear a certain tie, [or] walk up the steps a certain way."

Coach K, on the other hand, has used a more "visible option," with a tangent of superstitious ties, to help inspire his team.

"It's our 2010 championship ring," he said. "I've worn it throughout the tournament just as a reminder to me and to the team that our ultimate goal is to win a national championship."

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